244 pages, b/w illustrations, maps, tables
Mangroves and rice, six-row brittle barley and einkorn wheat. Ancient crops for prehistoric people. What do they have in common? All tell us about the lives and cultures of long ago, as humans cultivated or collected these plants for food. Exploring these and other important plants used for millennia by humans, Ancient Plants and People presents a wide-angle view of the current state of archaeobotanical research, methods, and theories.
Food has a public and private role, and it permeates the life of all people in a society. Food choice, production, and distribution probably represent the most complex indicators of social life, and thus a study of foods consumed by ancient peoples reveals many clues about their lifestyles. But in addition to yielding information about food production, distribution, preparation, and consumption, plant remains recovered from archaeological sites offer precious insights on past landscapes, human adaptation to climate change, and the relationship between human groups and their environment. Revealing important aspects of past human societies, these plant-driven insights widen the spectrum of information available to archaeologists as we seek to understand our history as a biological and cultural species.
Often answers raise more questions. As a result, archaeobotanists are constantly pushed to reflect on the methodological and theoretical aspects of their discipline. The contributors discuss timely methodological issues and engage in debates on a wide range of topics from plant utilization in hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists to uses of ancient DNA. Ancient Plants and People provides a global perspective on archaeobotanical research, particularly on the sophisticated interplay between the use of plants and their social or environmental context.
"Moving away from traditional archaeobotanical works that simply publish lists of plants, this book presents complex and sophisticated analyses of ethnobotanical data to provide a deeper understanding of people's relationship to flora in the past."
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Marco Madella is an ICREA research professor in environmental archaeology at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and at the IMF-Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Barcelona, and he has been director of studies in archaeology and anthropology at St. Edmund's College (Cambridge).
Carla Lancelotti is a researcher at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.
Manon Savard is a professor of geography and archaeology at the Universite du Quebec a Rimouski, where she is a founding member of a laboratory of archaeology and heritage.