It is demonstrated that palynomorphs can occur in fired ancient potsherds when the firing temperature was under 350°C. Pollen and phytoliths recovered from incompletely fired and fully fired potsherds (ca. 2700 yrs BP) from the Yanghai Tombs, Turpan, Xinjiang, NW China can be used as potential indicators for reconstructing past vegetation and corresponding climate in the area.
The results show a higher rate of recovery of pollen and phytoliths from incompletely fired potsherds than from fully fired ones. Charred phytoliths recovered from both fully fired and incompletely fired potsherds prove that degree and condition of firing result in a permanent change in phytolith color.
The palynological data, together with previous data of macrobotanical remains from the Yanghai Tombs, suggest that temperate vegetation and arid climatic conditions dominated in the area ca. 2700 yrs BP.