Subfossil plant macroremains are preserved in archaeological sediments (and occasionally in natural sediments) by charring, waterlogging and more rarely desiccation or mineralization. Analyses of fruits and seeds (carpology), charcoal (anthracology) and wood (xylology) from archaeological sites (habitats, wells, funerary contexts, handcrafts, etc.) or natural contexts (palaeo-channels, forest soils) are based on a thorough knowledge of distinctive morpho-anatomical features and on comparison with specialized atlases and modern reference collections.
The research themes addressed by carpology mainly concern plant resources exploited by past societies, their subsistence strategies and agro-pastoral practices, while Anthracology provides synthetic palaeoecological information and reconstructs forest dynamics, their determinisms and relations with the history of human societies.
The facility manages extensive collections of modern fruits and seeds, carbonized wood samples and thin sections of European, Asian, African and American woods.
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The service is available to external research departments.