Roots and Tubers in Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene China: Experimental Paleoethnobotany and Preliminary Case Studies
This is an abstract from the "Frontiers of Plant Domestication" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Recent advances in paleoethnobotanical research reveal that plants have been critical to the human diet for longer and in more diverse ways than previously assumed. This paper addresses the relative dearth of paleoethnobotanical information on the early uses of vegetatively propagated plants in China, despite their significant representation in modern crops. We developed a systematic criterion for diagnosing taxa of roots and tubers, also known as vegetative storage organs (VSOs), from macrobotanical remains in the archeological record. We characterized commonly consumed and historically significant VSOs in China, by studying experimentally charred modern samples under the scanning electron microscope (SEM). We then compared the characteristics of these modern VSO samples against systematically floated plant remains from archaeological sites in China. VSO taxa can be differentiated by using multiple lines of evidence, including the texture and arrangement of parenchymous cells, as well as the shape and arrangements of various organs. Though identification is difficult when fragile cell structures have collapsed or deteriorated, more robust features are often preserved for diagnosis. Our results suggest that the potential for studying the role of vegetatively propagated plants in early human-environmental interactions is overlooked, and can be expanded significantly with further investment in their systematic identification.
Cite this Record
Roots and Tubers in Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene China: Experimental Paleoethnobotany and Preliminary Case Studies. Mana Hayashi Tang, Xinyi Liu, Gayle Fritz, Zhijun Zhao. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451812)
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min long: 70.4; min lat: 17.141 ; max long: 146.514; max lat: 53.956 ;
Abstract Id(s): 25977