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Seeds as artifacts: Investigating the spread of agroecological knowledge in Eastern North America, c. 1000 BCE-1300CE

Author(s): Natalie Mueller

Year: 2016

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Summary

For crops to spread successfully, transmission of knowledge about how, when, and where to grow them is just as important as the seed itself. Seed morphology can be used as a proxy for this knowledge in two ways: 1) Domesticated seeds have been shaped by many generations of human cultivation, and agricultural practices can be reconstructed from their morphology; and 2) plasticity causes morphological variation that is a function of the growth environment created by communities for their crops. I integrate data from field collections, greenhouse experiments, and analysis of archaeobotanical assemblages of one seed crop, erect knotweed (Polygonum erectum L.) to investigate agricultural practices through space and time in Eastern North America. I then turn to ethnography for insights into the institutions that may have facilitated the spread of crops and agricultural knowledge from one community to another.


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Seeds as artifacts: Investigating the spread of agroecological knowledge in Eastern North America, c. 1000 BCE-1300CE. Natalie Mueller. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404734)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

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