Archaic Period MRG-6 and the Deep Culinary Roots of Oaxacan Cuisine

Author(s): Shanti Morell-Hart; Éloi Bérubé

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The Archaeology of Oaxacan Cuisine" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The rich cuisine of contemporary Oaxaca sprouted from deep roots. Archaic Period plant remains recovered from the MRG-6 rockshelter enhance prior work at Guila Naquitz and grant us insight into some of the managed and wild food plants still used in contemporary Oaxacan dishes. Over 70 different botanical taxa were identified from samples excavated at this site. Residues of several food plants were recovered-- including guaje, cactus tuna, various agaves, squash, amaranth, and goosefoot— indicating the deep history of some of these present-day ingredients. However, other Archaic food ingredients, such as acorns, hackberry, and wild grasses, have since fallen out of favor in canonical Oaxacan cuisine, demonstrating the dynamic nature of food over time. Moreover, microbotanical residues extracted from lithic artifacts show the early uses of certain tools in food preparation that have since been replaced by metal analogues. The MRG-6 rockshelter represents a place where a number of early culinary activities took place, from cutting wild bean plants with chert scrapers to disposing hard cactus seeds after meals. Through these botanical and artefactual residues, we see an early version of Oaxacan cuisine that dynamically transformed over centuries into the UNESCO intangible heritage recognized today.

Cite this Record

Archaic Period MRG-6 and the Deep Culinary Roots of Oaxacan Cuisine. Shanti Morell-Hart, Éloi Bérubé. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450857)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -98.679; min lat: 15.496 ; max long: -94.724; max lat: 18.271 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24483