Résumé : Urban stratigraphy is characterized by complicated sequences resulting from many superimposedphases of human occupation and activity. Parts of these deposits are difficult to interpret solelybased on field data. One typical example is “dark earth”: thick, dark-colored, humic, homogeneousarchaeological deposits covering large areas. The correct interpretation of dark earths requires ageoarchaeological approach that involves detailedmicromorphological observations. The presentarticle discusses the potential of applying near total and inorganic phosphorus analyses as a quickand relatively cheap method to obtain a preliminary characterization of such urban deposits. Forthe town of Brussels (Belgium), a large database of 12 types of well-identified urban depositswas created. Despite a series of postdepositional processes that affected most of these urbandeposits, significant differences in near total (Pnt), inorganic (Pi), organic (Po) phosphate levels,and/or Pnt/Pi, Pni/Po ratios were observed in most types of deposits, thus enabling the rapid characterizationof dark earth deposits.