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Microarchaeology Laboratory – LabMicro

Microarchaeology is a discipline that studies the part of the archaeological record invisible to the naked eye, which can only be reached by using instruments. The researchers of the Microarchaeology Laboratory at MAE/USP apply diverse methods, mainly optical microscopy (e.g. micromorphology, microbotany), to study the interaction between humans, environment, and landscapes in the past.


We carry out research in geoarchaeology, archaeobotany, archaeometry and paleoecology, and conduct fieldwork in archaeological sites that cover a vast period of human history, from the oldest occupations of South America, to areas still occupied by people today. Our interests are in the study of: 1) the process of the peopling of South America and the occupations of the Late Pleistocene; 2) the deep history of interactions between people and plants in Amazonia; 3) the development of maritime cultures on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts; 4) the construction/domestication of landscapes and the impact of humans on the environment; 5) cultural responses to environmental fluctuations and landscape changes.


LabMicro constitutes a multi-user laboratory that provides faculty, students, and researchers at MAE/USP a complete space to develop their research. Our Microscopy Room contains one petrographic microscope, two biological microscopes and one stereoscopic microscope (binocular loop), all equipped with cameras to capture and analyze digital images, as well as a high-resolution scanner for the digitalization of thin sections. The recently inaugurated Microbotany Laboratory provides infrastructure for the extraction of starch grains and phytoliths from sediments and artefacts, as well as for the impregnation of soil micromorphology samples.

LabMicro was funded thanks to financial support from FAPESP through the projects 2015/19405-6 and 2017/25157-0.
ContactsProf. Dr. Ximena S. Villagran (general coordination) ; Dr. Jennifer Watling (Microbotany Laboratory)