Monday, May 31, 2010
The first successful use of pollen analysis to explore vegetation history was by the geologist Lennart von Post, in Sweden in the 1920s. By identifying the relative abundance of pollen grains of different trees and plants in different strata, the ecology of an area during prehistoric times, that is, its climate, forest composition, and agricultural practices, and any changes to these over time, could be elucidated. This new scientific technique spread rapidly throughout Europe, so that by 1927 more than 150 papers about its use and the mapping of prehistoric ecologies had been published. In 1923 Harry Godwin began to employ pollen analysis for archaeological ends in England. Godwin (1901--1985) studied botany and geology at Cambridge University where he worked for the whole of his career.