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But Did They Eat Their Greens? Evidence of Plants in the Pottery of Northern Plains Bison Hunters and their Neighbors

Author(s): Mary Malainey ; Timothy Figol

Year: 2017

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Accounts of the amount of meat consumed by First Nations who relied on bison are spectacular; but, there are also reports of plant collection and use. The challenges and successes of using lipid residue analysis to detect plants in precontact Indigenous pottery are outlined. Fatty acid compositions of fresh roots, greens and certain berries form several distinct clusters when subjected to statistical analyses. Degradation processes arising from cooking and the passage of time tend to remove these differences. The presence of these low fat content plant products is typically indicated by residues with elevated levels of medium chain saturated fatty acids. The occurrence of plant sterols and characteristic distributions of triacylglycerols can provide additional support for these identifications. Lipid residue analysis shows that certain pots recovered from sites in the Northern Plains, adjacent parkland and southern boreal forest were reserved exclusively for plant materials. When combined with functional analyses, it is clear that certain Late Precontact Period vessel forms were more likely to contain only plant products. Lipid residues extracted from other vessels indicate plants were also prepared in combination with animal products.

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But Did They Eat Their Greens? Evidence of Plants in the Pottery of Northern Plains Bison Hunters and their Neighbors. Mary Malainey, Timothy Figol. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429541)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13268

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