Seeds of the Past, Seeds of the Future: Papers in Honor of Steven A. Weber

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Archaeology has the potential to inform us about how humans have found sustainable solutions to challenges such as climate change, overpopulation and environmental degradation. Through the study of long-term adaptations in human subsistence, ethnobiology is uniquely poised to understand how humans met (and can continue to meet) challenges in their food supply. Dr. Weber founded the Society for Ethnobiology and has worked extensively throughout South and Southeast Asia: areas where his worked enhanced our understanding of early subsistence systems, but also provided key examples of how modern food systems can benefit from an understanding of the deeper past. Papers presented in this session take a world-wide approach to honoring Dr. Weber’s contributions to making our understanding of past human subsistence relevant to the future.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)

  • Ancient Crops, Modern Possibilities: A Study on the Potential for Millet Agriculture in the United States (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cedric Habiyaremye. Jade d'Alpoim Guedes. Kevin Murphy.

    Millets are among the world’s oldest crops. Unique characteristics such as their adaptation to high temperatures, drought conditions, marginal environments and low-input farming systems, make millets promising rotational in diverse agro-environments across the U.S. Millets could play a vital role in the diversification of cropping systems and provides a regionally available source of highly nutritious cereal grain. Despite being a very early domesticated cereal crop, and a major food source in...

  • The archaeobotany of plant microfossils in South Asia - History and Perspectives (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marco Madella.

    The analysis of plant microfossils has progressed immensely in recent years. The increase in the number of phytoliths and starch grains works in several disciplines has substantially extended our knowledge about these microfossils, while at the same time diversifying the approaches by which they can be used as archaeological and palaeoenvironmental proxies. This presentation will discuss the history and developments of plant microfossils in South Asia.

  • Archaeofauna and Archaeobotany studies in Northwestern South Asia: Past, Present, and Future (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Meadow.

    Both Zooarchaeological and Paleoethnobotanical studies have been carried out on animal and plant remains from archaeological sites in northwestern South Asia for at least a century. These investigations, while providing important insights into the hunter-gatherer and agro-pastoral economies of the region, have lagged behind those carried out in other parts of the world in both quantity and quality. Indigenous practitioners of both sub-disciplines are few, and interest in these aspects of...

  • Cereals in Southeast Asian Prehistory (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cristina Castillo.

    Rice is the most important crop in Southeast Asia today. The evidence is that rice was equally important in Southeast Asia’s past. From the Neolithic period to the Middle Ages, rice has been discussed as food, a ritual item, a farming system, a culinary tradition, a tradable commodity and the basis of power. However, was it always the staple crop in Southeast Asia? The archaeobotanical studies conducted in Central Thailand by Weber revealed that in some instances and places, millet was more...

  • Developing a Legacy Collection of Traditional Rice Cultivation: Implications for Archaeobotanical Study (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Fabian Toro. Chantel White. Joyce White.

    Legacy ethnobotanical collections have untapped potential to elucidate human-plant relationships through time and space. This paper examines a subset of a comprehensive ethnobotanical collection undertaken in 1979-1981 in northeast Thailand. The subset comprises 43 traditional rice cultivars and wild forms, each collected along with detailed information about cultivar-specific uses and growing conditions. Our study includes morphometric examination of grains and spikelet bases with the objective...

  • From Rojdi to Harappa and Beyond: Regional Variation in the Indus Civilization (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rita Wright.

    Steve Weber's pioneering research on botanical remains and environment has provided foundational studies for subsistence and settlement in the Indus civilization. Results of his field research at Harappa in the Punjab, Rojdi in Gujarat, and Farmana in Haryana focused in three key areas where major Indus centers were established. Differences in archaeobotanical remains provided a firm basis from plant remains and long-term agricultural packages in the three regions. These ranged from...

  • Gene-Culture Coevolution, Pit Hearth Cooking, and the Diabetes Epidemic among North American Indigenous Populations (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Molly Carney.

    While the diabetes epidemic among indigenous Native American populations has been examined for more than 30 years, the nuances between environmental and genetic causes of this disease remain understudied. In this paper, I explore the idea that the diabetes epidemic among Native American populations may be partially attributed to the introduction of a diet suited for Westernized populations. I will specifically look at gene-culture coevolution and the salivary amylase gene (AMY1) copy numbers...

  • Low intensity cultivation and domestication: pathways to millet domestication in India and China (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dorian Fuller. Chris Stevens.

    The steppe zone of northern China and the savanna zones of India both produced indigenous domestication of numerous small-grained Panicoid cereals, i.e. millets. This presentation will explore parallels in the processes of domestication of these crops, including comparisons of ecological characteristics of wild progenitors, the seasonal mobility of early cultivators, and shared domestication traits and the current state of the their documentation in archaeobotanical evidence. Millets for the...

  • Maya Peasantry: Crop Diversity Past and Present (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mario Zimmermann.

    For several years, peasant communities on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, have not produced high enough maize-yields to sustain populations in the area. This is despite the fact that modern-day demographics are considerably lower than population estimates for the heights of Maya cultural development during the pre-Columbian era. Some scholars have argued that maize was not the sole staple for the ancient Maya. Root and tree crops are among the candidates for alternative staples given their...

  • Millets and Rice on the Move: Adaptive Strategies in the Past and Future (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sydney Hanson. Jade d'Alpoim Guedes.

    A growing tradition of archaeobotanical research, one that was pioneered by Steven Weber, is allowing us to form a picture of how millets and rice spread into Southeast Asia. Although rice continues to play an important role in the diet in this area, the use of millet has been slowly forgotten. These two different crops have been alternatively seen as a "cultural package" that coincided with the spread of farmer populations from Southern China, or adaptations to different ecological or climatic...

  • Plant based textiles and basketry at Harappa, Pakistan (3700-1900 BCE) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Kenoyer.

    Excavations at the site of Harappa undertaken by the Harappa Archaeological Research Project between 1986 and 2010 have recovered a wide variety of artifacts relating to plant based textiles and basketry from between 3700 to 1900 BCE. This paper will present the results of the analysis of archaeological evidence and experimental studies used to develop more accurate interpretations of the nature of early plant based fibers and basketry. Woven textile impressed terracotta beads and spindle whorls...

  • Presentation of the past; interaction and storytelling; how we grow through dialog (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christine Hastorf.

    While archaeobotanist’s work hard at interpreting botanical data, one way to improve our interpretations is to interact about our material, tacking between raw and adjusted data to better understand those transformations with others, bringing us closer to the past. Like a gear change, presenting material and hearing responses make a big difference in our explanations and perspectives. I stress this here because of Steve’s crucial initiation of the Society for Ethnobiology some years ago, which...

  • Revisiting Harappa. A re-evaluation of Macro-botanical evidence. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathaniel James.

    Harappa is a key site in understanding of the plant-human relationships that defined the increasing urbanization and eventual regionalization of the Indus Valley from 3300-1700 cal. BC. This paper presents a re-evaluation of macro-botanical evidence excavated at Harappa from 1990-2000. It charts how the archaeobotanical record reflects changing social organization at the site.

  • Steven A. Weber and the Birth of the Society of Ethnobiology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Steven Emslie.

    In June 1978, two young graduate students met while working for the U.S. Forest Service in Flagstaff, Arizona. At the time, I was organizing the 2nd Ethnobiology Conference to be held at the Museum of Northern Arizona in honor of two founding fathers of ethnobiology, Alfred Whiting and Lyndon L. Hargrave. Steve and I soon became friends and colleagues, spending many evenings over beers, and our conversations often centered on our mutual interests in interdisciplinary studies for which...