The Fiske Center Paleoethnobotany facilities are dedicated to the investigation of peoples' relationships with plants, in particular understanding the dramatic changes in both societies and landscapes during the last 500 years.

The lab undertakes research in historical archaeology, provides identification and interpretation of archaeological seeds, wood, pollen, and parasites for Fiske Center collaborative projects and outside sponsors, and participates in the educational mission of department of anthropology by training graduate students not only in the identification of archaeological plant materials, but also in the cultural interpretation of these remains.

Paleoethnobotanical analytical and processing facilities are spread across three lab spaces, each with a separate focus. The Palynology lab is a clean space dedicated to extraction of pollen and parasites from soil samples. In addition to the processing equipment, the lab houses secure refrigerated storage facilities for soil samples. The Float lab, located within the Wet lab, houses a Dausman Flote-Tech 1A for the water separation of macrobotanical remains. The main paleoethnobotany facility resides in the Environmental Archaeology (or joint zooarchaeology/paleoethnobotany lab), and contains equipment and collections for pollen, parasite, and macrobotanical identification and analysis. In the Environmental Archaeology lab there are 5 microscope workstations, several equipped with digital cameras. Microscopy resources include compound and dissecting microscopes: one compound microscope has polarizing and Nemarsky optics, and another is capable of both reflected and transmitted light microscopy. The lab maintains a variety of coring equipment including a vibracore for the recovery of sediments.

The Paleoethnobotany section of the Environment Archaeology lab houses comparative collections of micro- and macro-botanical materials. The macrobotanical collection has more than 1000 seed and fruit specimens and 200 wood and wood thin sections. The pollen comparative collection of 700 taxa, the Human Impacts Pollen Collection, has many of the major types of plants used for long-term environmental reconstruction, but we focus on taxa useful for understanding the dynamics of human-plant interactions. These include cultivars, weedy plants associated with human colonization of landscapes, as well as invasive plants. The collection has been digitally photographed and the images are searchable online in the Human Impacts Pollen Database. The lab also houses the Lawrence Kaplan phytolith collection of nearly 100 microscope slides and micrographs of Eurasian and North American domesticates.

Paleoethnobotany Laboratory
Location: M-2-503
Director: Heather Trigg
Phone: 617.287.6838
Office: M-2-504
Email: Heather.Trigg@umb.edu