Review – Molluscs in Archaeology: methods, approaches, and applications

1 min read
Edited by Michael J Allen
Oxbow Books, £25.00
ISBN 978-1785706080
Review Catherine Barnett

This book brings together 23 papers addressing the application of molluscan analysis to archaeological study. Michael Allen and Bas Payne introduce it, and set out its scope and geographical coverage. They note that this subject has not been covered in the literature for decades – the subject area is ripe for revisiting.

Topics include examination of mollusc assemblages from particular habitat types, highlighting what these can tell us of landscape change, human activity, and economy. Some authors discuss specific uses of Mollusca by humans, including chapters on artefact-production, dietary contribution, and midden formation. Useful consideration is made of the sometimes-problematic use of shells in radiocarbon dating, and there is coverage of sampling, quantification, and metrics by Allen and Law.

The book does not give a how-to guide, nor a manual for identification – these are already provided by the likes of Kerney and Evans. Instead, it offers an interesting read for practitioners, and represents a significant contribution to the field. It is recommended for archaeological scientists, palaeoecologists, and conchologists alike.

This review was published in CA 334.

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