Time's River: Archaeological Syntheses from the Lower Mississippi River Valley

By Janet Rafferty; Evan Peacock | Go to book overview
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14
Paleoethnobotanical Information
and Issues Relevant to the
I-69 Overview Process,
Northwest Mississippi

Gayle J. Fritz


Introduction

The overview process serves three broad purposes for dealing with paleoethnobotanical remains. First, it provides an opportunity to pull together information from previous reports, both in the immediate zone of potential impact and in the surrounding region. Second, based on this information, it makes it possible to assess relevant questions and issues. Third, it is a forum for making recommendations about future recovery and analysis of plant remains, framed within appropriate research domains. I begin by summarizing what we know— and things about which we would like to know more— in the realm of relationships between plants and people in northwest Mississippi and the wider southC entral and Lower Mississippi Valley (CMV/ LMV). Throughout this discussion I suggest key questions that archaeologists might try to answer. I conclude with some suggestions for incorporating paleoethnobotanical research as an integral component of fieldwork and analysis during upcoming work in Mississippi.

As summarized in Table 14.1, macrobotanical remains have been reported from at least 73 archaeological components in northwest Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, extreme southeast Missouri, southwest Tennessee, and northeast Louisiana. The plants from 27 of these components, however, were recovered during hand excavations or routine dry screening, without the benefit of finemesh flotation or water screening. Therefore, few items other than corn cobs, nuts, or persimmon seeds were found at those sites. Tables 14.2 through 14.6 summarize the types of nutshell and seeds reported for various time periods, along with remains of corn and squash. These are not complete tabulations. Acorn nutmeat is not included, nor are most taxa that analysts were unsure about, or several seed types represented by only one or two specimens. The tables nevertheless reflect changing temporal trends in subsistence and spatial variations across the broader area of concern.

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