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The Role of Ritual in Early Food Producing Economies: Seed Keepers and Seed Exchange in Ethnography and in the Archaeological Record of Eastern North America

Author(s): Natalie Mueller

Year: 2017

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Summary

The ethnographic record is replete with examples of farming societies for whom the maintenance and exchange of seed stock was imbued with ritual significance. Seed keeping is often an institutionalized role for families or individuals: a matter of pride, as aspect of identity, and a heavy responsibility. The establishment of these rituals and institutions may have been crucial to the domestication of annual plants and the development of food producing economies. What would seed keeping and seed exchange rituals look like in the archaeological record? The presence of ‘precocious domesticates’ in clearly ritual contexts is one possible archaeological correlate. I present evidence of anomalously early domesticated erect knotweed (Polygonum erectum L.) from a Middle Woodland mound in Kentucky (Walker-Noe 15GD56) and suggest directions for further research.


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The Role of Ritual in Early Food Producing Economies: Seed Keepers and Seed Exchange in Ethnography and in the Archaeological Record of Eastern North America. Natalie Mueller. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430040)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14413

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