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June 2007, Passage 4, Setup

The passage provides an overview of a novel method for studying the Irish landscape's historical changes, highlighting the limitations of traditional document-based research and introducing pollen analysis as an alternative.
  • Historians traditionally rely on historical documents to study the Irish landscape, facing challenges due to the scarcity and selective nature of these documents before the 17th century.
  • A new method involving the examination of fossilized pollen grains offers a way to overcome the limitations of document-based research, providing insights into agricultural practices not documented in historical records.
  • Examples of pollen analysis reveal its ability to challenge and revise previous historical assumptions about the cultivation of cereal grains and flax in Ireland.
  • Despite its advantages, pollen analysis has limitations, particularly in distinguishing between cultivated plants and their wild counterparts, as illustrated by the example of madder.
The Challenge of Traditional Historical Research
Introducing Pollen Analysis as a New Method
Revising Historical Assumptions with Pollen Data
Limitations of Pollen Analysis