"Every Plant is Medicine:" Overlapping Categories in Food Production and Ritual

Author(s): Madeleine McLeester

Year: 2018


Wild plant collection is often a key component of food production. Yet, despite its dietary import, collection practices remain under-researched and "wild" plants are typically relegated to the margins of our archaeological analyses. Drawing on historical medicinal records, I discuss the practices surrounding the collection of medicinal plants and these plants’ intricate entanglements in food production systems. In this presentation, I use the early 20th century ethnobotanical works of Huron Smith to explore possibilities for collection area, plant use, time of collection, and enacted rituals to expand current understandings of foraging practices. Using these records, I reconstruct foraging areas and determine the extent of landscape brought into production. I also discuss how medicinal plants in this region challenge our categories of wild, medicinal, and food, as plants can intersect multiple categories and aid their users in other forms of food production, like hunting. This presentation encourages us to rethink our archaeological categories and questions about modes of food production, including the spatial expanse of production systems, labor organization, and ritual.

Cite this Record

"Every Plant is Medicine:" Overlapping Categories in Food Production and Ritual. Madeleine McLeester. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445180)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21790