Some Like It Hot: Analytic Diversity and Complementarity in the Exploration of Past Cooking and Cuisine

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

Diet and subsistence are established avenues of archaeological inquiry. The last decade, however, has witnessed greater attention afforded to the cooking techniques employed by past societies. Cooking, a crucial component of cuisine, lies at the intersection of adaptive and social behaviors, allowing for insight into both decisions about nutritional enhancement of foods and the constraints placed on cooking practices by cultural factors, such as identity and ideology. Globally, a diversity of methods is being employed by archaeologists to explore various aspects of past cooking habits, each yielding unique but often complementary data. This symposium explores the types of information yielded by different analytic methods and thereby initiates a dialogue among researchers about how these methods might be used in tandem to create richer and more complete interpretations about past cooking behaviors

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • 9,000-year-old cereal meals: new methods for the analysis of charred food remains from Çatalhöyük East (Turkey) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lara Gonzalez Carretero. Dorian Q. Fuller.

    Remains of archaeological cereal preparations are often recovered from archaeological Neolithic sites across the Near East and Europe through flotation. These are recognizable as seemingly amorphous charred fragments of plant material. The study of these charred fragments of ancient meals is of considerable importance because the identification of their components allows the characterization of the nature of the food types represented, and their preparation, provides insights into past culinary...

  • A-Maize-ing: Phytolith evidence for an early introduction of maize in the Upper Great Lakes diet (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rebecca Albert. Caitlin Clark. Susan Kooiman. William Lovis.

    There is no recorded maize (Zea mays ssp. mays) at Laurel or North Bay Initial/Middle Woodland sites in the northern Lake Michigan-Huron or Superior basins of the western Great Lakes, despite the presence of maize microbotanicals in Michigan, New York, and Quebec as early as 400 BC. To evaluate the potential for an early maize presence in this region, samples of carbonized food residues adhering to sixteen ceramic vessels from the Laurel/North Bay Winter site (20DE17) were processed and...

  • Beer, Porridges, and Feasting in the Gamo Region of southern Ethiopia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Arthur. Matthew Curtis. Susan Kooiman. Kathryn Arthur.

    Porridges and beer make up a majority of the household diet throughout much of rural Africa and could possibly be some of the earliest foods produced. In Africa, pottery is one of the primary culinary tools used to make both porridges and beer. This ethnoarchaeological and archaeological research explores pottery using use-alteration and morphological analyses from the Gamo of southern Ethiopia to indicate the use of pottery as a culinary tool. Beer and porridges are considered luxury foods...

  • Bone Marrow as Part of the Local Cuisine at Fort St. Joseph, a French Fur Trade Post in Southwest Michigan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Terrance Martin.

    Analyses of the large faunal assemblage from the eighteenth-century Fort St. Joseph site (20BE23) in Berrien County, Michigan, are becoming more concerned with the question of "food or furs?" With over 70% of the identified animal remains coming from white-tailed deer, we are trying to discern whether broken longbones are the result of removal of marrow for subsistence, or if they may have also been used to prepare hides. In contrast to late prehistoric and early historic Native American sites...

  • But Did They Eat Their Greens? Evidence of Plants in the Pottery of Northern Plains Bison Hunters and their Neighbors (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Malainey. Timothy Figol.

    Accounts of the amount of meat consumed by First Nations who relied on bison are spectacular; but, there are also reports of plant collection and use. The challenges and successes of using lipid residue analysis to detect plants in precontact Indigenous pottery are outlined. Fatty acid compositions of fresh roots, greens and certain berries form several distinct clusters when subjected to statistical analyses. Degradation processes arising from cooking and the passage of time tend to remove...

  • Cooking and Cuisine: Culinary Clues and Contexts in the Archaeological Record (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Susan Kooiman.

    Identifying specific foods exploited and consumed by people from past societies is important, but decisions concerning nutrition and social identity can only be fully understood through the study of food preparation techniques and recipe development and traditions. Cooking and cuisine embody the intersection of the biological and the cultural. Their centrality in both everyday and ritual life makes them ideal thoroughfares into the exploration of adaptive, social, political, and ideological...

  • Investigating Hunter-Gatherer Earth Oven Intensification: a view from the Lower Pecos Canyonlands (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stephen Black. Charles Koenig.

    Foraging societies in the semi-arid Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwestern Texas intensified the use of desert succulents over a span of 9,000 years or more for food, fiber, and other uses. Food plants including Agave lechuguilla, sotol, and prickly pear were baked in earth ovens with stone heating elements, an iterative process that left massive residual by-product in the form of fire-cracked rocks and burned and unburned plant refuse in and around baking facilities. The archaeological...

  • The Joys of Boiling (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Skibo.

    The list of the greatest technological innovations of all time include the wheel, bow and arrow, stirrup, and the controlled use of fire among other great human achievements. These technologies are given such prominence because they changed human history in significant ways. Never mentioned, however, is the cooking pot.Yet this common, inexpensive, utilitarian tool was an important part of profound, worldwide changes in cooking and food. Boiling or simmering opened up a whole series of new foods...

  • Learning from Earth-Oven Baking Experiments (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alston Thoms.

    Ethnohistoric and ethnographic accounts attest to the dietary importance of wild root foods (i.e., geophytes) and a diversity of earth-oven baking techniques among hunter-gatherer populations in south-central North America. Recovery of charred bulbs and tubers, as well as their microfossils, from ancient earth ovens and fire-cracked rock features illustrate that dependence on wild geophytes and earth-oven technology was widespread by the early Holocene and continued to the historic era. It is...

  • Phrygian Cuisine at Kerkenes: a synthesis of ceramic and botanical evidence for food storage and cooking (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Graff. John Marston.

    At the Iron Age site of Kerkenes in Central Turkey, researchers are using different analytical methods to study cooking and food preparation. Evidence for cooking pots and other ceramic containers used for preparing, storing, and cooking food are found together with a variety of botanical remains. A new project at the site initiated the complementary analysis of ceramic container production and use with plant preparation, storage, and consumption. Situating these data in context, taking...

  • Prehistoric Cooking with Rock and Rock Substitutes in the Sacramento Valley, California (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kristina Crawford.

    When populations increase, more resources need to be extracted from the land to satisfy their needs. When cooking, one way to increase yields is to change techniques to include rock heating elements. To test this, twenty sites from the Late Archaic Period (3,000 to 150 BP) in the northern Sacramento Valley of California were examined. The results of the study indicated that there is an increase in rock heating elements and thermally altered rock in archaeological deposits through time. It was...