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Evaluation of the Flote-Tech Machine-Assisted Flotation System

  • Andrea A. Hunter (a1) and Brian R. Gassner (a1)

Abstract

Recently, the Flote-Tech machine-assisted flotation system was introduced as a new technique for processing soil samples in arid environments and areas with limited or no access to water resources. This system uses water recirculation in a closed loop between a water reservoir and a flotation tank, aided by diffused air, to extract archaeological botanical remains from soil samples. The paper presents two experiments conducted to assess macroremain recovery rate, flotation rate, and the potential for cross-contamination between soil samples. In addition, Flote-Tech recovery and flotation rates are compared with rates achieved using IDOT manual and SMAP machine-assisted systems. The first set of experiments using the original 1-mm screen in the flotation box received high ratings for large, medium, and small seeds, but rated poorly for very small seeds. After installing a .5-mm screen, a higher percentage of small and very small seeds was recovered. Flotation rates for the customized Flote-Tech system ranked high, matching flotation rates for SMAP systems and out-performing manual IDOT systems by a factor of four to eight. In addition, a distinct advantage of the Flote-Tech system over other machine-assisted and manual systems is the elimination of cross-contamination between samples.

Résumé

Recientemente, el sistema de flotación asistida por la máquina Flote-Tech fue introducido corno una nueva técnica para procesar muestras de suelo en los medioambientes y áreas con acceso limitado o sin acceso a los recursos de agua. Este sistema utiliza la recirculación de agua en un circuito cerrado entre un tanque de agua y un tanque de flotación, ayudado por el aire difundido, para extraer restos botánicos arqueológicos de los muestras de suelos. Este papel presenta dos experimentos llevados a cabo para evaluar la tasa de recuperación de los macrorestos, la tasa de flotación, y la capacidad de contaminación entre elementos de las muestras de suelo. El estudio compara además las tasas de recuperación y de flotación por Flote-Tech con las tasas obtenidas utilizando los sistemas de flotación asistida por máquina IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) y SMAP (Shellmound Archaeological Project). El primer bloque de pruebas con el filtro original de 1 mm en la caja de flotación obtuvo tasas altas para semillas grandes, medianas, y pequenas, y muy bajas para las semillas muy pequeñas. Después de instalar un filtro de .5 mm, se recuperó un porcentaje más alto de semillas pequeñas y muy pequenas. Las tasas de flotación con el sistema Flote-Tech adaptado resultaron altas, igualándose con las tasas de flotación para los sistemas SMAP y mejorándose los sistemas manuales IDOT en un factor de cuatro a ocho. Además, una ventaja distinta del sistema Flote-Tech sobre otros sistemas mecanizados o manuales, es la eliminación de contaminacion entre elementos de las muestras.

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References

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Evaluation of the Flote-Tech Machine-Assisted Flotation System

  • Andrea A. Hunter (a1) and Brian R. Gassner (a1)

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