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The Nature and Status of Paleoethnobotany: Methods and Approaches for Understanding Site Formation Processes

Author(s): Deborah Pearsall

Year: 2015

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Summary

Paleoethnobotany is a diverse discipline, with practitioners around the globe. A systematic discussion of methods and approaches is beyond the scope of this presentation. I focus instead on an issue concerning paleoethnobotanical practice and inference that cross-cuts the kinds of materials being studied, or the geographic or topical focus of research: deposition and preservation of plant remains. Determining what kind(s) of human behaviors and natural processes led to deposition and preservation of plant tissues/pollen/phytoliths/starch grains in archaeological sites/coring localities/artifacts is the interpretive challenge at the heart of paleoethnobotany. I review current methods and approaches for understanding formation processes of the paleoethnobotanical record, and suggest that an approach that integrates multiple biological indicators provides the most promise for drawing strong inferences of past human behaviors.

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The Nature and Status of Paleoethnobotany: Methods and Approaches for Understanding Site Formation Processes. Deborah Pearsall. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394917)


Keywords


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