ARCHAEOBOTANY AND ETHNOBOTANY AS EXPLANATORY TOOLS IN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD
1.1. From processing to plate: Archaeobotanical approaches to cooking and consumption
Andreas G. Heiss, Dorian Fuller, Jaromír Beneš
Much archaeobotanical work has focused on production and procurement — what species were eaten, how were they grown or gathered — but increasing efforts are now focusing on how these plants were processed into consumables: breads and beers in the widest sense, mushes, porridges, and gruels. This session draws on widening theoretical concepts and a new look at the outcomes of cuisine as biogenic artefacts and material culture. Experimental analogues allow for the exploration of small details within the chaînes opératoires of food-making. On the analytical side, light and scanning electron microscopy can be accompanied by a wide array of additional lines of evidence such as lipid and biomarker analyses, and micro-remains such as phytoliths and starch. This session looks into current progress and challenges in reconstructing what and how people cooked, brewed and consumed and how this contributes to cultural and social interpretation of past societies.
1.2. Wild plant use among foragers and farmers
Welmoed Out, Radek Grabowski, Peter Poschlod, Michaela Ptáková
While domestication and Neolithisation resulted in incorporation of cultivated plants into the human diet in most parts of the world, gathered plants played an important role both before and after these processes. Apart from being consumed as food, wild plants may have been used for a variety of purposes (e. g. construction material, medicine, fodder, craft and fuel). Moreover, they may have been fostered or even cultivated. Which plants were used, how were they processed and/or prepared, what was their function, and is it possible to say something about their role and/or importance? How different were the roles of wild plants in hunter-gatherer systems versus amongst agriculturalists? How does ethnobotany inform archaeological interpretation? What do archaeobotanical finds say about social aspects of former societies and how they engaged with the broader landscape?
1.3. Plants structuring society: trade and globalisation
Leonor Peña-Chocarro, Laura Sadori, Jaromír Beneš
This session welcomes papers dealing with the early arrival, translocation, trade and diffusion of allochthonous plants in specific historical archaeological contexts and regions. We intend to gather archaeobotanical evidence for a critical review of the available data on the introduction of edible and non-edible plants into Europe or elsewhere. In prehistoric and early historic times crops from East Asia, India and sub-Saharan Africa found their way into European environments, raising questions about processes of cultural interconnection as well as agricultural adaptations. We also welcome studies of plants being moved in the other direction. In Europe archaeophytes and neophytes have often been defined as being present before or after the “discovery” of the Americas. In the reconstruction of the spread of new species, written sources and iconography have often played a key role. What does archaeobotany add to this and what new contexts for understanding diversification of cultural flora are offered by an archaeological perspective?
1.4. Round table: Method development within archaeobotany
Welmoed Out, Adela Pokorna, Maria Hajnalová
Archaeobotany, on the cross-roads of biology and archaeology, is an important tool for reconstructing the relationship between people and plants in the past. The field makes use of a wide range of methods and proxies, of which some have been used since the start of archaeobotany, while others are relatively recent. Fine-tuning of existing practices is an ongoing process, while new techniques additionally allow for development of innovative methods. This session aims to gather contributions about methodological aspects of archaeobotany, also based on experimental work, for example studies on modern plants to develop identification criteria, the development and testing of new lab protocols and the development of new proxies to understand ecological and/or socio-economic aspects of the past. Developing such methods allow us to push forward the state of the art of archaeobotany and ultimately improving our understanding of people in the past.
1.5. Round table: Dissemination of archaeobotany
Leonor Peña-Chocarro, Anna Maria Mercuri, Robert Spengler, Andreas G. Heiss
As an intrinsically interdisciplinary research topic, archaeobotany faces today’s communicative challenges from both its archaeological and natural scientific sides. Presenting results in a globalized world (as well as the bibliometric requirements for a career) demand international publications in English, while at the same time local publishing organs must not be omitted: They establish the connections to local stakeholders, to the “strictly archaeological” community, and to the wider public. Science communication via social networks has become a crucial factor in gaining attention for our research, challenging us in terms of activity and visibility as well as reducibility down to the length of a tweet. Innovative new formats such as citizen science can even receive funding on their own. Another crucial part of scientific dissemination is teaching which requires outstanding skills in science communication and didactics. Teaching constantly brings forward the most creative approaches of scientific communication. This session invites presentations on all aspects of science communication in archaeobotany from well-established to highly innovative concepts, but also critical discussions on the pitfalls of knowledge transfer to audiences beyond our own community.