Indicators of Past Climates


Microfossils can be a great help in determining the paleoclimate and paleogeography of archaeological sites.

Paleoclimate: The climate in geologically past times.

Paleogeography: The geographical features at periods in the geologically past times.


Pollen microfossils are compared with today's pollen grains and the vegetation of a site can be identified. Maize pollen microfossils are very useful. The range of temperatures in which maize pollen can survive allows archaeologists to form a picture of the climate.

Pollen Grain

Oceanic microfossils, such as foraminifers, indicate areas surrounding a site where ancient water levels were at the time the site was occupied. In some situations, a layer of oceanic microfossils covering a site can show that the site had been flooded at one time.

Foraminifer Microfossil