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Palaeobotany is the study of vegetal remains (macro and micro fossils) deposited and preserved in various types of sediments. This discipline mainly focuses on the remains encountered in archaeological sites and in their surroundings. Palaeobotany includes different scientific areas: Carpology (seed studies), Anthracology (charcoal studies) and Palynology (study of pollen and other micro-remains).

The identification of plant micro and macro fossils permits the interpretation of past natural environments as well as changes in climate, sea level and coast line and the human impact on nature. The study of archaeological deposits may assist in the interpretation of important questions related to anthropogenic impact on the vegetation from agriculture (start, type, cultivated plants, etc.), the introduction of new species, collection and use of wild plants, pastures, deforestation and reforestation, among others.

Together with the other disciplinary areas like geoarchaeologyarchaeozoology,  human bioarchaeology and lithic Technology it is possible to reconstruct the environment in its anthropological and natural dimension.

Reference collection

The base of the investigation of Palaeobotany is the reference collections composed of recent plants permitting the identification of the fossil plants to the level of taxon or species. In addition specialized bibliography with identification keys is used.

Each of the above mentioned areas of investigation are represented in the reference collections:


·         Seeds (Carpoteca)

·         Wood and charcoal (Xiloteca)




·         Pollen and spores (Palinoteca)


The reference collection includes 1279 registers; Seeds -764 species, Wood and charcoal - 282 species, Pollen and spores - 233 species.

Pollen Atlas of Portugal