Anthracology is the study of the charcoal discovered either in an archaeological context or in natural sediments. Whether resulting from domestic hearths, the deliberate or accidental burning of wooden structures or from forest fires, these carbonised remains are examined under a microscope.

Each tree species has its own ligneous structure, enabling it to be identified. Analysing and interpreting this charcoal enables both the determination of the site vegetation during the period in which it was burned, and the use to which it was put by humans.