Maize starch taphonomy in chicha production: experimental results

Author(s): Crystal Dozier

Year: 2016


Starch granules can be recovered from a variety archaeological contexts and have been used to interpret cooking technologies. This set of experiments investigated some taphonomic considerations to interpreting chicha (corn beer) production from starch granules. The first experiment examined how far the maize starch granules travelled from the grinding station. Starch could be recovered as far as 10 meters from the grinding site, with dense starch collections happening less than 40 centimeters from the mano and metate. The three conditions of grinding (outside, with wind; outside, against wind; inside, no wind) highlight the importance of context in interpreting the starch record. The second experiment examined the morphological changes in the starch granules through the malting, boiling, and fermentation stages of chicha production. Malted maize starch granules gelatinized at a much lower temperatures than non-malted cereal starches observed in other experiments. Due to the rapid gelatinization of malted maize starch granules, it is unlikely that chicha-related starch would be recovered in boiling, fermentation, serving vessels, dental calculus, or within the digestive system. Studying the chicha production stream, however, indicates that starch could be recovered from the grinding materials; morphologically malted starch granules may be indicative of brewing technologies.

Cite this Record

Maize starch taphonomy in chicha production: experimental results. Crystal Dozier. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405038)

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Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;