32402f14 - Introduction to Archaeology: Class 14...

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Introduction to Archaeology: Class 14 Archaeobotany and Bioarchaeology Copyright Bruce Owen 2002 Today we once again cover two basically unrelated topics: archaeobotany (also called paleoethnobotany) and an introduction to bioarchaeology do the readings to get more of the story! Archaeobotany two terms for the field with different emphases, but generally covering work done by the same experts archaeobotany : study of ancient plant remains usually focuses on reconstructing environment, climate, resource availability, etc. paleoethnobotany : study of ancient plant-human relationships and their changes over time diet and food preparation (cuisine) implications about farming and gathering practices determining if a site was occupied year-round, or only during certain seasons ("seasonality") craft uses of plants (fibers for textiles, gourds for net floats, reeds for mats or house construction, basketry, etc.) uses of plants for fuels can have implications about ethnic, occupational, status, etc. relationships macrobotanical remains (what Thomas calls "plant macrofossils", even though they are not fossils): pieces of plant material that are big enough to pick out while excavating, or that turn up in the screen a related kind of macrobotanical find: casts or impressions in ceramics, bricks, etc. example of wheat and barley impressions from Mehrgarh, Baluchistan, early Neolithic (7000 - 4500 BC) macrobotanical remains are often used to help to reconstruct diet Peruvian examples: kinds of corn and cobs guavas, peppers, beans, etc. macrobotanical remains are sometimes found in coprolites, also very useful for reconstructing diet coprolites : dried feces (human, dog, etc.) only preserved in special circumstances usually very dry environments often contain macrobotanical remains also small bone fragments, microscopic botanical material, parasites that reflect general health status a very direct, specific source of data on diet, even specific meals and cuisine analysis requires specialists! Peruvian example of coprolites
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Introduction to Archaeology F 2002 / Owen: Archaeobotany and Bioarchaeology p. 2 macrobotanical remains also often help to indicate non-dietary activities, crafts, architecture, etc. farming for fibers: cotton bolls, fiber, etc. indicate farming of cotton for textiles and/or seed oil finding the non-fiber parts of cotton indicates that people at the site were involved in farming it, rather than trading for fibers or textiles made elsewhere collecting for mats, cordage, etc reeds, grasses, etc. along with basketry, these artifacts are often studied by specialists who are not botanists but they often will have a paleoethnobotanist identify the plants that provided the raw materials collecting architectural building materials in the area where I work, two different cultures used different kinds of reeds to build their houses why?
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32402f14 - Introduction to Archaeology: Class 14...

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