About this book
This volume contributes to the emerging topic of social paleoethnobotany with a series of papers exploring dynamic aspects of past social life, particularly the day-to-day practices and politics of procuring, preparing, and consuming plants. The contributors to this volume illustrate how one can bridge differences between the natural and social sciences through the more socially-focused interpretations of botanical datasets. The chapters in this volume draw on a diversity of plant-derived datasets, macrobotanical, microbotanical, and molecular, which contribute to general paleoethnobotanical practice today. They also carefully consider the contexts in which the plant remains were recovered. These studies illustrate that the richest interpretations come from projects that are able to consider the widest range of data types, particularly as they aim to move beyond simple descriptions of food items and environmental settings.
The authors in this volume address several themes including: the collection of wild resources, the domestication of crops and spread of agriculture, the role of plant remains in questions regarding domestic life, ritual, and gender as well as the broader implications of a socially-engaged paleoethnobotany. These studies point a path forward for the constantly evolving field of paleoethnobotany, one that is methodologically rigorous and theoretically engaged. Together, these papers shed light on ways in which the specialized analysis of plant remains can contribute to theory building and advancing archaeological understanding of past lifeways.