Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 84th Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM (2019)

This collection contains the abstracts of the papers presented in the session entitled "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands," at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

For over 10,000 years, earth ovens, also called roasting pits or burned rock middens, have played important economic and social roles for the indigenous peoples living across the US-Mexico Borderlands. The remains of these plant baking features, most notably massive accumulations of fire-cracked rock and charred earth, are common from Texas to California, and south into Mexico, and were used by hunter-gatherers, formative horticulturalists, sedentary farmers, as well as contemporary native groups to turn inedible plants into digestible food, fiber, and beverage. Despite the long-term ubiquity of earth ovens from the late Paleoindian until today, and their broad spatial and cultural distribution, these features have earned relatively little direct archaeological research. This symposium explores the longevity and diversity of plant baking along the Borderlands, and examines the subsistence strategies, technological organization, and social contexts within which earth ovens functioned.

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  • Documents (14)

Documents
  • Agave Bloom Stalk Ovens in the Southern Chihuahuan Desert (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Stark.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Fire cracked rock (FCR) and hearth features represent one of the most commonly observed cooking features encountered by archaeologists. This research presents an ethno-archaeological context in which FCR utilization and discard is observed, providing a Middle Range theoretical...

  • Agave Roasting Pits of the Mescalero Apache (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Holly Houghten.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. One of the main staple foods of the Mescalero Apache was Mescal or Agave. The heart of the plant is cooked in an earth oven for four days. The plant is then eaten straight out of the oven or dried for storage and supply. Today the roasting of Mescal is still done every year in...

  • Assessing Earth Oven Intensification in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Southwest Texas (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charles Koenig. Stephen Black. Charles Frederick.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Earth oven baking begins in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwest Texas around 10,000 years ago and becomes a prominent component of hunter-gatherer life throughout the Holocene. We know plant baking played an important role within Lower Pecos lifeways because earth oven...

  • Central Texas Plant Baking (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard McAuliffe. Stephen Black. Raymond Mauldin.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Burned rock middens, large accumulations of thermally fractured stone and charred earth representing earth oven facilities, are ubiquitous in the hunter-gatherer archaeological record of Central Texas, upon and near the Edwards Plateau. The subject of study for over a century,...

  • Cholla Bud Roasting in St. George, Utah during the Early Pueblo II Period (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Heidi Roberts.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Cactus-bud procurement is not typically associated with Virgin Branch Ancestral Puebloan subsistence systems. Yet, when I visited a small artifact scatter on the apex of a rocky, cholla-covered hill near St. George, Utah, I was reminded of cactus-procurement landscapes on the...

  • Fire on the Mountain: The Use of Earth Ovens for Agave and Pinyon Processing in the Sheep Range, NV (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Spencer Lodge.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Hot-rock technology was an integral aspect of prehistoric life in modern day southern Nevada. The utility of earth oven use is exemplified in the Sheep Range, located 20 miles north of Las Vegas, where more than 200 earth oven facilities have been documented across six...

  • Hot Rock Cooking of Desert Lily and Winding Mariposa (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric Wohlgemuth. Daron Duke. Sarah Rice. James Kangas. Mark Slaughter.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. We describe Late Holocene hot rock roasting of desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata) in the Salton Basin of southeastern California, and winding mariposa (Calochortus flexuosus) near the Virgin and Muddy rivers confluence in southern Nevada. We briefly note differences but focus...

  • Labor, Settlement, and Social Dimensions of Earth Oven Use in Southern New Mexico and West Texas (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timothy Graves. Myles Miller.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. A decade of investigations of earth oven baking pits and their associated burned rock discard middens across southern New Mexico and west Texas have revealed new insights into the economic and social roles of these ubiquitous features. Investigations range from pedestrian and...

  • Late Paleoindian Earth Ovens in the Texas Big Bend (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Walter.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Over the last eight years, the Center for Big Bend Studies (CBBS) has investigated a number of Late Paleoindian thermal features in the Big Bend region of Texas. Excavation of these features and attendant laboratory analyses have provided new insights regarding hot rock cooking...

  • Looking under the Rocks: Geoarchaeological Investigations of Earth Oven Facilities in Various Settings of the Lower Pecos, Texas (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ken Lawrence. Charles D. Frederick. Charles Koenig. Arlo McKee. Jacob I. Sullivan.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The multi-year Ancient Southwest Texas (ASWT) Project at Texas State University has investigated numerous earth oven facilities (more commonly known as burned rock middens or BRMs) in the Lower Pecos of southwest Texas. The investigated prehistoric sites ranged from large,...

  • Macrobotanical Perspectives on Earth Oven Use in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, Texas (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kevin Hanselka. Leslie Bush. Philip Dering.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The tradition of cooking foods in earth ovens goes back at least 10,000 years in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwest Texas. Throughout millennia earth ovens were used to transform otherwise inedible plants into food, fiber, and possibly beverages. The region’s arid climate...

  • Power Cooking...Or Not (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul Minnis. Michael Whalen.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The Paquimé-centered tradition is one of the most influential communities in northwestern Chihuahua and U.S. Southwest (NW/SW). We have argued that food production and preparation was central to this polity. Some of best evidence of this are earthen ovens, one of which is...

  • Roasting Pit Mounds of the Verde Valley, Central Arizona: New Implications for Yavapai/Apache Archaeology (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peter Pilles.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Excavations in the Verde Valley of central Arizona have documented the use of roasting pits for food processing from Archaic to modern times. The most obvious evidence for this can be seen in the large mounds of burned earth and fire-cracked rocks that dot the Valley. Over 90...

  • Traditions and Community: Hornos and Communal Feasting among the Hohokam (2019)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric Cox. Douglas Craig.

    This is an abstract from the "Hot Rocks in Hot Places: Investigating the 10,000-Year Record of Plant Baking across the US-Mexico Borderlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Earth ovens (hornos) have been documented at many sites across the Hohokam region of south-central Arizona. These features were commonly used to cook large amounts of food at public gatherings. They were part of a long-standing tradition of communal feasting that served, among...