An Acorn in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Granary: The Effect of Decay Rates on Food Storage Preferences in Prehistoric California
Author(s): Carly Whelan
This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Though food storage is a crucial tool for avoiding subsistence shortfall in environments with seasonal resource disparities, it is costly relative to immediate consumption. Food stores are vulnerable to theft by animals and other people, and are susceptible to incremental loss from vermin and mold. To compensate for these anticipated losses, people must collect, process, and store more food than required to meet their consumption needs during the storage period. The ability of resources to preserve should, therefore, be an important factor influencing the decision of which ones to store. I present a model that takes into account the decay rates of resources to evaluate which foods should be preferred for storage periods of various lengths. I apply the model to prehistoric California to explain why some species of acorns were preferred for storage over others. Because decay rates have not been empirically derived for acorns, the model uses approximations based on anecdotal information about acorn storage ability and post-harvest loss estimates of grains stored with traditional techniques. To improve data inputs for the model, I have started a series of acorn storage experiments. I present the preliminary results of these experiments here.
Cite this Record
An Acorn in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Granary: The Effect of Decay Rates on Food Storage Preferences in Prehistoric California. Carly Whelan. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450102)
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min long: -124.189; min lat: 31.803 ; max long: -105.469; max lat: 43.58 ;
Abstract Id(s): 26198