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Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Death of Primitive Economic Man: Nutritional Archaeology for the 21st Century

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

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  • Documents (16)


  • Analysis of food remains in human coprolites from Furna do Estrago prehistoric site, Pernambuco State, Brazil. (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Isabel Dos Santos. Luciana Sianto. Sheila Mendonça de Souza. Adauto Araújo. Sérgio de Miranda Chaves.

    The identification of human food remains from archaeological sites contributes to paleonutrition and paleoepidemiology studies, shedding light on key aspects of human biological evolution and cultural changes.In the present study,macroscopic and microscopic food remains were recovered from human coprolites from Furna do Estrago,Pernambuco State,Brazil.The remains are dated between 1860 +/- 50 (BETA 145954) and 1,610 +/- 70 (BETA 145955) years BP (before present).The region may have been...

  • The Birth of Economic Woman (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Liam Frink. Celeste Giordano.

    Modern humans have been living in the Arctic for over 30,000 years and their ability to adapt to the ecological limitations and challenges is relevant to questions of human adaptation and evolution. However, we know very little about the actual technologies and nutritional implications that were necessary to develop in the northern latitudes. Here we focus on two aspects of Arctic dietary practices that are little understood in the literature and yet would have been essential to successful...

  • Can epigenetic mechanisms illuminate dietary ancestry in populations? (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT M. J. Mosher.

    Illuminating genetic and environmental factors underlying complex traits is a daunting task. Dietary nutrients provide continuous and evolving influence on gene expression, thus affecting individual growth and development and adaptive capacities over the life course. Metabolic traits represent the culmination of many gene-by-nutrient interactions. Genes set parameters for susceptibility to environmental factors, variation in both internal and external environmental dynamics mediating the...

  • Childhood Diet and Foraging in Prehistoric Central California (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Alexandra Greenwald. Jelmer Eerkens. Eric Bartelink.

    Ethnographic evidence demonstrates that hunter-gatherer children may forage effectively, where ecology, subsistence strategies, and social organization are conducive to juvenile participation. We hypothesize that, in easily navigated environments with food items accessible to children, juveniles will engage in assistive or independent foraging after a period of exclusive post-weaning parental provisioning, and that differences in male and female diets will reflect the sexual division of labor...

  • Diet, Sex, and Fitness: The Nutritional Potential of the Fish Slough Cave Diet Revisited (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Wendy Nelson.

    Archaeological investigations conducted in the late 1980s at Fish Slough Cave, Owens Valley, California recovered over 300 well-preserved human coprolites. When the nutritional profile of the diet inferred from coprolite analysis was compared against optimal foraging model predictions, based on energetic returns, the diet was considered to be deficient. However, when the same data were considered from a nutritional ecological perspective using macronutrients (e.g., water, protein, fat and...

  • Don’t Drink the Water: Differential Diagnosis of a Pathological Process Present at the Ray Site and Discussion of Environmental Context. (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Elizabeth Nelson. Christine Halling.

    In environments with naturally high or anthropogenically increased fluoride levels (>1.5mg/l), communities are at risk for toxic exposure to fluoride. Groups exposed to toxic levels of fluoride have higher incidence of maladies of the musculoskeletal, reproductive, and neurological systems. With chronic exposure individuals may develop skeletal fluorosis, a condition characterized by osteosclerotic activity evidenced by the ossification of ligamentous and tendinous attachments, along with an...

  • An extant example of warm-climate forager gastrophagy and its implications for extinct hominin diets. (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Laura Buck. J. Colette Berbesque. Brian Wood. Chris Stringer.

    Accounts of gastrophagy (consumption of prey stomach material) are widespread in ethnography. The practice is recorded from different latitudes, subsistence strategies and with a wide variety of prey; however, many such reports are anecdotal. Conversely, where recent authors mention gastrophagy it is typically marginal to their main research. Little is therefore known about the frequency, seasonality, demographic factors, species composition, and relative dietary contribution of gastrophagy and...

  • Human Ecology and the Economy: Illogical Responses to Resource Risk in Southern Nevada (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Tim Ferguson.

    Research in the Virgin Branch Puebloan region indicates that during the middle Pueblo II Period there were strong socio-economic mechanisms linking the lowlands in southern Nevada to the uplands on the Arizona Strip. Ties between these areas are demonstrated by the presence of large numbers of ceramics produced in the uplands that have been recovered from lowland sites. Traditional ecological and economic models suggest that these trade networks may have been a way to reduce risk by...

  • The Nutritional Context of the Pueblo III Depopulation of the Northern San Juan: Too much maize? (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT R. Matson.

    The abandonment of the Four Corners area is a longstanding problem in archaeology. Recent work has shown that the terminal occupation was concentrated into a limited number of large defensive sites. This resulted in an extreme emphasis on maize, which was untenable because of maize's low amounts of Lysine and Tryptophan. I describe the processes that led to this settlement pattern and the evidence for this diet. I then explain how the combination of the settlement pattern and the...

  • The Nutritional Ecology of Human Obesity (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT David Raubenheimer.

    Nutrition has exerted a powerful influence on human evolution and history, and continues to play a central role in global challenges such as food security and obesity. However, the complexity of nutrition presents considerable challenges for researchers to unravel its grip on human affairs. In this talk I will introduce an approach called nutritional geometry that has been developed to aid this process. Nutritional geometry differs from conventional nutritional models in acknowledging that...

  • The Nutritional Value of Pacific Herring: an Ancient Cultural Keystone Species on the Northwest Coast of North America (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Madonna Moss.

    Pacific herring play a special ecological role in North Pacific marine ecosystems by converting phytoplankton into energy consumable by a variety of animals, including humans. Northwest Coast peoples have been consuming herring since the early Holocene, and patterns of usage likely changed over time. Herring are available in different forms during different times of the year. This paper will evaluate the nutritional value of herring and seasonal herring products vis à vis other Northwest...

  • Paleoethnobotany at LSP-1 Rockshelter, Lake County, OR: Assessing the dietary diversity of plant foods in Holocene diet (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Jaime Dexter Kennedy. Geoffrey M. Smith.

    Over the past five field seasons, collaborative research at the LSP-1 rockshelter in Oregon’s Warner Valley conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno archaeological field school and Bureau of Land Management has revealed a record of human occupation spanning the Holocene. While faunal remains are prominent in the deposits, nutritional information can also be derived from pollen and seed data at LSP-1. This paper presents the results of paleoethnobotanical analysis with respect to diet breadth...

  • PaleoNutrition, Coprolites, and Hemachromatisis: What is the Connection? (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Barbara Klontz. Linda Scott Cummings.

    Evidence of cribra orbitalia in the physical anthropology record has long been interpreted to represent in adequate sources of iron in the diet. Pairing coprolites with naturally mummified bodies from Nubia allowed examination of the diet and correlation with physical evidence retained by the bones at both the population and individual levels. Although the diet included foods sufficiently rich in iron that iron deficiency anemia should not have been a problem, it also contained foods heavy in...

  • Plant food consumption among modern foragers informs Paleolithic dietary ecology (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Domingo Carlos Salazar-García. Chelsea A. Leonard. Robert C. Power. Stephanie L. Schnorr. Amanda G. Henry.

    Reconstructing hominin diets is hindered by biases in the methods used to recover dietary information, and by our narrow interpretations of modern forager behavior. A better understanding of these limitations necessitates re-examination of dietary evidence in the archaeological record. Zooarchaeological and stable isotope data suggest that medium and large game dominated the diets of Middle and Upper Paleolithic foragers, and environmental reconstructions indicate that energetic returns from...

  • Primitive Economic Man: R.I.P. (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Bryan Hockett.

    Primitive Economic Man (PEM) paradigms have been popularly applied in economics, nutrition science, sociology, psychology, and anthropology to explain human behavior for almost two centuries. PEM contains two general assumptions: (1) that most humans make cost-benefit decisions to further their own personal economic or political condition; and (2) Darwinian selection favors these cost-benefit trade-offs; in other words, the children of selfish, cost-benefit oriented individuals differentially...

  • Shellfish and Nutrition in San Francisco Bay: Clues from Seasonality Studies (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Jelmer Eerkens. Robert Bettinger. Ryan Nesbit.

    Shells are especially visible in the archaeological record of Central California. They comprise much of the midden in the large shellmounds that once lined San Francisco Bay. However, shells are also present in many inland sites, though they were collected from the Bay and hauled many kilometers inland. Seasonality reconstructions using oxygen stable isotopes show that shells on the Bay were typically harvested in two seasons, winter and summer, but inland sites contain shells from just winter....

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America