Author(s): Linda Scott Cummings; Donna Roper

Year: 2010


Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR):

-FTIR studies how molecules absorb infrared radiation, between 4000-400 wavenumbers

-Reveals the structure of specific organic molecules

-Has been experiencing a renaissance for identifying organic substances

-Currently considered one of the more powerful tools in organic and analytical chemistry

-Used in forensic science

-Two regions of the spectrum: functional group (4000-1500) and fingerprint region (1500-400)

-Matching in the fingerprint region is considered very rigorous.

Matches with reference library materials elucidate similarities in peaks between the organic residues in the ceramics and those known foods, either plants or animals. Experimental stews prepared using primitive methods provide a valuable look at the signature that represents complex food combinations. Comparison with both individual references and references of "stew" or mixtures of food both provide valuable information for interpreting the ancient record of food. Extensive cooking and testing is required to build an appropriate reference library for use of the FTIR on archaeological samples.

Our goals in this limited trial were several:

1) to evaluate the feasibility of using FTIR to identify Central Plains tradition food preparation practices

2) to determine if it is possible to differentiate uses of Central Plains tradition jars

3) to make a preliminary determination of what those uses were and what food items might have been combined as recipes for meals

4) to get a preliminary answer to the burning question of how the seed bowls were used.

Cite this Record

ANCIENT RECIPES REVEALED: FTIR ANALYSIS OF CENTRAL PLAINS TRADITIONAL POTTERY. Linda Scott Cummings, Donna Roper. 2010 ( tDAR id: 379980) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8HD7V59

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