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The Complexity of (Un)charred Seeds: Unearthing the Taphonomic and Cultural Processes at a Stó:lō-Coast Salish Settlement in the Upper Fraser Valley

Author(s): Karen Hess ; Kimberly Kasper ; David M. Schaepe ; Anthony P. Graesch

Year: 2015

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Summary

Many archaeologists overlook the presence of uncharred archaeobotanicals, specifically seeds, within excavated cultural contexts. Frequently assemblages of uncharred seeds receive little analytic attention due to the difficulty of differentiating taphonomic variables associated with their presence, including soil moisture, pH, and insect activity. Further confounding this methodological quandary, it is often difficult to distinguish between the "cultural" and the "modern" seed rain recovered within archaeological samples. As a result, most assemblages of uncharred seeds are excluded from analyses, and their interpretive significance is seldom addressed. This poster addresses the above methodological issues through the investigation of archaeobotanicals from Welqámex, an island-based Stó:lō-Coast Salish settlement in the upper Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Focusing our analysis on residential architecture, we consider the taphonomic and cultural processes accounting for the presence of uncharred archaeobotanicals recovered from house floors, pit features, and roof layers. We argue that rigorous sampling procedures - systematic collection of samples beyond features and across vertical space – afford an opportunity to analytically distinguish between cultural and natural site formation processes. In turn, we demonstrate how both charred and uncharred seeds further our understanding of variation and the choices embedded in foodways and medicinal practices among Stó:lō-Coast Salish extended-family households.

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The Complexity of (Un)charred Seeds: Unearthing the Taphonomic and Cultural Processes at a Stó:lō-Coast Salish Settlement in the Upper Fraser Valley. Kimberly Kasper, Karen Hess, Anthony P. Graesch, David M. Schaepe. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397631)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

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