I’m a little bit academically annoyed actually. Annoyed with the field of Palynology.
As a fresh student of geology, but a very seasoned student of archaeology I’ve already noticed several topics where the two fields have somewhat different opinions on the same matter. One of those topics is the Neolithic process (the introduction of a farming society which finally came to the nordic cultures with the Funnelbeaker culture around 4000-4500 BC). As a former archaeologist I could never have expected that there actually were scientists in a different field also looking at the same process. Or actually, of course I knew that geologists worked with facts that was used among archaeologists, but I always thought that they simply provided the archaeologists with facts, not that they in turn produced their own theories about the Neolithic process. I now know from speaking with some of my teachers that I was wrong.
There are several geologists at my University that study the palynology of the Holocene period. And it’s not always that their final theories match the final theories of the archaeologists. For instance, the archaeological theory about Sweden’s first farmers point out that the use of grain predates the actual growth of it in Sweden. Meaning simply that you cannot use only palynology data (pollen) about the introduction of grains to get the full image of when we started to use farming produce. We have pottery (or rather marks and traces of grain in the pottery) that shows the use of grains several hundred of years before we can see pollen from actual growth of grains in Sweden.
It bothers me some that geologists seem to think that the pollen data being based in natural science is a better proof of the introduction of farming than pottery marks or other archaeological finds. Meaning that they consider themselves of being in better understanding of the Neolithical process than the archaeologists (!)
First I would say that both of these things (pollen and pottery) are just as good proof, but that they show different aspects of the Neolithic process. Secondly I must point out that palynology facts are good instruments for archaeologists to use, and they always use these facts in their theories as far as I know. There is definitly more consideration for palynology among archaeologists than there is consideration for grain marks in pottery among geologists. And I must say, the Neolithic process should be considered a field where the archaeologists should know more and have the last saying when it comes to the bigger theories. Professional archaeologists that study the Neolithical process know more in general about the Neolithic process than what geologists do, it is that simple.
The archaeologists look at so many more aspects of it all than a paleobotanist does - and they use the palynology in their theories. There is no reason for the paleobotanist to invade the domains of archaeology like I’ve noticed that they unfortunately do. The academical conflict is one sided since its only the geologists that doesn’t accept the archaeological facts and not the other way around.