This paper outlines the procedures and equipment necessary for applying a simple flotation technique to recover animal bone, seeds, and other small cultural remains lost in the normal screening of soils from archaeological sites. Soil is initially processed in the field by a water-separation technique. The resulting concentrate is later treated, in the laboratory, by chemical flotation, to separate faunal from plant remains.
This simple, inexpensive technique enables processing of soil in quantity, thereby allowing recovery of small plant and animal remains from midden or feature fills where they occur in very low densities.
It is argued that, without use of such a flotation procedure, inferences about prehistoric subsistence patterns from faunal and floral remains are sharply biased in favor of larger animals and in favor of hunting, over natural plant food collecting, since conventional screens are not adequate for recovery of most plant remains or small animal bones.