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The Evaluation of the Labor Costs of Stone Boiling Dried Maize During the Early Agricultural Period in the Southwest

Author(s): Andrea Thomas

Year: 2017

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Summary

The Early Agricultural period (2100 BC-AD150-500) in the Southwest begins with the presence of maize and ends with the advent of ceramic vessel use. It is assumed maize was dried out and stored for future consumption. Once dried, maize required extensive processing to gelatinize the endosperm starch, or transform the polysaccharides back to a digestible monosaccharide, through techniques such as: parching, steeping, grinding, and/or boiling (Hard et al. 1996). Little, however, is known about the exact methods of dried maize processing during the Early Agricultural period. The addition of slaked lime to cook dried maize in boiling water, or nixtamalization, can boost digestive breakdown and the nutritional availability of the maize (Katz et al. 1974). Some Southwest archaeologists postulate nixtamalization could be achieved with an indirect firing technique termed "stone boiling" (Ellwood et al. 2013). This poster presents the results of seven stone boiling dried maize experiments. This research addressed the following questions: what are the labor costs of stone boiling dried maize and would this technique be a viable approach for daily consumption? These experiments demonstrated that the labor costs of stone boiling dried maize would be too high to be a preferred processing technique by early maize agriculturalists.


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The Evaluation of the Labor Costs of Stone Boiling Dried Maize During the Early Agricultural Period in the Southwest. Andrea Thomas. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429336)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16948

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