Golden, CO, United States
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Cummings L.S.,Paleoresearch Institute | Voss B.L.,Stanford University | Yu C.Y.,Chinese Historical and Cultural Project | Kovacik P.,Paleoresearch Institute | And 4 more authors.
Historical Archaeology | Year: 2014

Most archaeobotanical research on Chinese immigrant communities in North America has relied on aggregate, site-wide data sets. The question of foodways variability within Chinese immigrant communities has been relatively neglected. An intrasite comparative approach is used here to investigate differences in plant-food consumption between residents of merchant households and those of tenement buildings in the Market Street Chinatown, a major urban Chinese immigrant community in San Jose, California, from 1866 to 1887. Residents of both household types consumed a nutritious diet rich in vegetables and fresh fruits; however, some merchant households consumed greater varieties of cereal grains, while residents of some working-class tenements consumed a wider range of legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. These class-based differences were not consistent, however, suggesting that specific occupation, more than class position, may have influenced access to or preference for certain plant foods.

Abramiuk M.A.,University of Nevada, Reno | Dunham P.S.,Cleveland State University | Cummings L.S.,PaleoResearch Institute | Yost C.,PaleoResearch Institute | Pesek T.J.,Cleveland State University
Ethnobotany Research and Applications | Year: 2011

Paleoethnobotanical analysis of anthropogenic soils sampled from archaeological features dating to the Classic Maya Period (A.D. 250-900) reveal diagnostic phytoliths that help the authors bring to light evidence of a novel sustainable agricultural strategy and a variety of nutritional and medicinal plants that were utilized by the Classic Maya of the Maya Mountains, Belize, Central America. Given the archaeological context of these phytoliths, the authors infer that the plants from which they were derived were exploited by the Classic Maya of the region. These discoveries have the potential for improving health and wellness regionally in the present since the agricultural strategy that is reconstructed demonstrates an intensive means of cultivation that has the potential of sustaining large, dense populations. The nutritional and medicinal plants alluded to, in turn, provide further evidence in support of the utilization of traditional knowledge in sustaining community health and wellness.

Yost C.L.,PaleoResearch Institute | Blinnikov M.S.,St. Cloud State University | Julius M.L.,St. Cloud State University
Journal of Paleolimnology | Year: 2013

Wild rice (Zizania spp. L.) is a North American native grain with spiritual and dietary significance to many native people. Wild rice is also an important aquatic plant that provides critical habitat to wetland and aquatic wildlife. Past distribution of wild rice in North America is poorly understood, largely because of the limited taxonomic resolution of Poaceae pollen. A novel technique for detecting diagnostic Zizania silica phytoliths allows unambiguous identification of this taxon in lake sediments. We need to better understand modern depositional patterns of phytoliths in lake sediments, however, before attempting detailed paleoreconstructions. We analyzed distributions of diagnostic Zizania and other Poaceae phytoliths in modern sediments from three lakes with variable percent cover of wild rice and a non-wild rice control lake in central Minnesota. Absolute counts of phytoliths per gram sediment were achieved using an exotic diatom marker. Non-Zizania short-cell phytoliths, i. e. phytoliths from wetland grasses Phragmites australis and Muhlenbergia glomerata, dominate the assemblages in all lakes. Most Poaceae short-cell phytoliths appear to be derived locally, with little evidence for regional inheritance from eolian or alluvial processes. Because of anatomical differences in decay of plant debris and other taphonomic issues, Zizania inflorescence rondel phytoliths were most abundant, with morphotypes from other parts rarely encountered. Even in sediments under the densest wild rice stands, Zizania phytoliths contributed a maximum of 9 % to total Poaceae phytolith abundance. Lake morphology also affects the depositional pattern of phytoliths in modern sediments, so coring locations should be considered carefully. At least 500 phytoliths should be counted to detect a sufficient number of wild rice phytolith morphotypes. Diagnostic Zizania phytoliths are a reliable tool for wild rice detection in paleolake sediments. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

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