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Title Testing the Veracity of Paleoethnobotanical Macroremain Data: A Case Study from the Cer¿¿¿¿n Site, El Salvador
Publication Date
Degree MA
Discipline/Department Arts and Sciences: Anthropology
Degree Level masters
University/Publisher University of Cincinnati
Abstract Archaeological research conducted in 2009 at the Cer¿¿¿¿n site, a Late Classic Maya village in El Salvador rapidly buried in volcanic ash from the Loma Caldera eruption in A.D. 600, identified intensively cultivated outfields planted in manioc (Manihot esculenta) and maize (Zea mays) 200 meters south of the habitation area. Ash from Loma Caldera encased plants growing in the outfields when the volcano erupted, and the spaces once occupied by these plants were cast in plaster to reveal an unusually detailed view of an ancient agricultural landscape. A midden comprised of abundant charred paleoethnobotanical macroremains and artifacts was found among these fields. Manioc and maize stems cast in plaster were found to be growing from the midden at the time of the eruption. This thesis hypothesizes that manioc plant parts would be identified in the midden’s assemblage of charred macroremains since the plant’s stems grew from the midden. A paleoethnobotanical analysis conducted with the midden assemblage did not identify any manioc plant parts, however. To address the absence of manioc in the form of macroremains, the following questions are posed by this study: Do the plant remains identified from the midden reflect those plants identified in their systemic contexts within the Cer¿¿¿¿n village and the site’s southern agricultural outfields? If the plant remains from the midden and those plants identified in their systemic contexts in the village and outfields are similar, did Cer¿¿¿¿n’s unusual site formation processes contribute to this lack of a preservation bias between the two assemblages? Or does greater parity exist between plant macroremains recovered from the archaeological record and plant resources utilized at ancient Maya sites than archaeologists and paleoethnobotanists currently realize? If the plant remains from the Operation P midden differ from the plants identified in their systemic contexts at Cer¿¿¿¿n, how can plant use practices, site formation processes, and recovery/identification biases introduced by archaeologists and paleoethnobotanists contribute to discrepancies between the two assemblages? This study concludes that the absence of manioc and other plant taxa in the form of carbonized macroremains in the archaeological record does not necessarily preclude their presence and use by the ancient Maya at sites lacking the unique preservation conditions present at Cer¿¿¿¿n. Incorporating the systematic collection and analysis of both paleoethnobotanical macroremains and microremains into the research designs of archaeological projects in the Maya area will help to bridge the gap between archaeologically invisible plant resources and those used by the ancient Maya.
Subjects/Keywords Archaeology; Cer¿¿¿¿n; Paleoethnobotany; Classic Maya; Manioc; El Salvador; Zapotit¿¿¿¿n Valley
Contributors Scarborough, Vernon (Committee Chair)
Language en
Rights unrestricted ; This thesis or dissertation is protected by copyright: all rights reserved. It may not be copied or redistributed beyond the terms of applicable copyright laws.
Country of Publication us
Format application/pdf
Record ID oai:etd.ohiolink.edu:ucin1337287040
Repository ohiolink
Date Indexed 2021-01-29
Grantor University of Cincinnati

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…x28;1996a). Climate At an elevation of 450 m asl and a latitude of 14N, the site is situated within a tropical monsoon climate and annually receives an average of 1,700 mm 300 mm of precipitation, with 96% of this amount falling between May and…