New Project Alert: MICROPLASS

A global topic that everyone is talking about: Plastics

When we think of plastics we think modern material, which is correct. Plastics even now form the basis of archaeological investigations of the contemporary world. However, what we also want to know is how this synthetic creation impacts archaeological remains and what it can tell us about plastic pollution more generally?

With leading researcher Jeanette Rotchell, MICROPLASS is an Historic England funded project that is dedicated to finding out more about micro-plastic pollution. In short, we are looking for evidence of plastic pollution in historic archaeological soil samples.

Archaeological sediments can tell us a huge amount about the archaeological sites where they have accumulated. As archaeologists, we are constantly collecting soil samples from our excavations since they help us in our research to decipher what places were used for in the past.

Often minute traces of seeds, metals, bone and pottery (plus much more!) can be found within a soil sample. This can tell us a lot about the types of food that people would have consumed in a particular area and if the site was used for domestic or industrial purposes. In this collaborative research project with the University of York, University of Hull, Historic England and York Archaeology, we hope to use archaeological sediments in novel ways to understand more about how microplastic pollution has affected these records of the past, and how they could influence their future.

Here are a few snapshots from the latest MICROPLASS workshop: