Early evidence of maize (Zea mays ssp. mays) and beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) on the northern plains : an examination of Avonlea cultural materials (AD 300-1100)
DisciplineEnvironmental Studies : Northern Environments & Cultures
MetadataShow full item record
The goal of this thesis is to reconstruct the plant component of paleodiet for the Avonlea complex (AD 300 – 1100 BP), an early ceramic-producing culture on the Northern Plains. Avonlea peoples have been assumed by archaeologists to subsist exclusively off of wild plant and animal (bison) resources. However, elsewhere on the Great Plains, this time period witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of domesticated plants such as maize, beans, and squash. In addition to identifying consumption of wild plants, this thesis will examine the extent to which these cultigens were incorporated into Avonlea diet. The plant component of Avonlea palaeodiet is reconstructed through analysis of starch and phytoliths from carbonized and non-carbonized food residue. This sample set included 21 ceramic vessels, 7 stone artifacts, and 3 soil samples obtained from eight Avonlea sites located in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In addition to archaeological food residues, starch assemblages from 45 modern plant specimens were also examined to enable identification of previously unidentifiable wild and domesticated plant taxa.