World Pre-hx - Ch 5 Bone Chemistry and Prehistoric...

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-1Ch. 5 Bone Chemistry and Prehistoric Subsistence Ÿ Information on past diet has traditionally come from a # of lines of analysis: the study of preserved animal bones, plant remains, fecal matter, tooth wear & disease, & the physical characteristics of the human skeleton. Ÿ New methods involving the chemical analysis of human bone provide a means of obtaining more information on Paleolithic nutrition. Ÿ Ch. 6 Paleoethnobotany Ÿ Burned plant materials can sometimes be obtained through a process called flotation- excavated sediments are poured into a container of water and the lighter, carbonized plant remains float to the top. Ÿ In addition to the kinds of plants used, the major issues in paleoethnobotany (the study of the prehistoric use of plants) include the contribution of plants to the diet, medicinal uses, and domestication- the origins of agriculture. Ÿ The paleoethnobotany of Southwest Asia is of particular interest because of the evidence for early domestication in this area- 2 varieties of wheat (emmer & einkorn, two-row barley, rye, oats, lentils, Ÿ Wild einkorn wheat is more nutritious than the hard winter red wheats grown in the US today- Jack Harlan estimated that a family of 4 could harvest enough grain in 3 weeks to provide for an entire year. Ÿ If this wild wheat was so abundant & nutritious, why was it domesticated? Probably because wild wheats don’t grow everywhere in Southwest Asia & that some communities may have transplanted the wild form into new environments. Ÿ Gordon Hillman studied wild einkorn & observed that simple harvesting had no major impact on the genetic structure of the wheat. Only when specifically selective harvesting & other cultivation techniques were applied could changes in the morphology of the seeds be noted- this suggests that certain characteristics of domesticated wheat & barley, which show definite morphological differences from the wild ancestral forms, must have been intentionally selected; the change from wild to domesticated wheat may have occurred in a brief period, probably 200 years or less. Ÿ The most important characteristic of a domesticated species is the loss of natural seeding ability- the plant comes to depend on human intervention to reproduce; this change also permits humans to select Ÿ Another major change in domesticated plants is the human removal of plants from their natural habitat Ÿ Grain at the top of the grass stalk is connected by the rachis, or the stem; each seed is covered by a husk, or glume. Ÿ
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This note was uploaded on 07/13/2008 for the course ANTH 10700 taught by Professor Malpass during the Fall '08 term at Ithaca College.

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World Pre-hx - Ch 5 Bone Chemistry and Prehistoric...

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