Foraging and Farming in the Eastern Woodlands

Foraging and Farming in the Eastern Woodlands

Foraging and Farming in the Eastern Woodlands

Foraging and Farming in the Eastern Woodlands

Synopsis

Combining broad chronological syntheses and regionally specific case studies, this volume presents up-to-date findings about plant use by prehistoric and early historic peoples who lived in the Eastern Woodlands of North America. The contributors stress that current depictions of the subsistence strategies, settlement patterns, and social relations of these earliest Americans need to be reformulated to accommodate our new understanding of both the importance of native crops and the variability in peoples' foodways.

Excerpt

C. MARGARET SCARRY

Paleoethnobotany is still a small enough discipline that most scholars working in a region know, correspond, and congregate with one another. Certainly this is the case for those of us whose research focuses on the Eastern Woodlands of North America. National and regional meetings provide opportunities for us to share our work in formal and casual gatherings. In addition, many of us keep in touch by mail, telephone, and more recently, e-mail. Often I have found the tone of our discussions an odd mixture of excitement and frustration.

Our excitement arises from the conviction that our research has important implications for understanding prehistoric and early historic foodways. Over the last two decades plant data have accumulated at an incredible rate. The introduction and widespread adoption of flotation (Struever 1968a; Watson 1976) greatly improved our ability to recover plant remains. During the same period, the number and size of archaeological projects have increased. As a result, more materials, including plant remains, have been recovered from more sites. Dramatic improvements in the size and quality of the plant assemblages available for study have stimulated increased sophistication in the quantitative analyses of plant data (see Hastorf and Popper 1988). Moreover, new technologies have added to the precision of our observations. Accelerator mass spectrometer dating makes it possible to date critical plant specimens; application of this technique has contributed to a new understanding of the chronology of crop domestication and spread in the Eastern Woodlands (see Yarnell, this volume). Scanning electron microscopy and computerized image analysis make possible highly detailed and precise morphological studies of seeds and other plant remains. These analyses can provide . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.