Wild Harvest: Plants in the Hominin and Pre-Agrarian Human Worlds

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Oxbow Books, Apr 20, 2016 - Social Science - 368 pages
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Plants are fundamental to life; they are used by all human groups and most animals. They provide raw materials, vitamins and essential nutrients and we could not survive without them. Yet access to plant use before the Neolithic can be challenging. In some places, plant remains rarely survive and reconstructing plant use in pre-agrarian contexts needs to be conducted using a range of different techniques. This lack of visible evidence has led to plants being undervalued, both in terms of their contribution to diet and as raw materials. This book outlines why the role of plants is required for a better understanding of hominin and pre-agrarian human life, and it offers a variety of ways in which this can be achieved.

Wild Harvest is divided into three sections. In section 1 each chapter focuses on a specific feature of plant use by humans; this covers the role of carbohydrates, the need for and effects of processing methods, the role of plants in self-medication among apes, plants as raw materials, and the extent of evidence for plant use prior to the development of agriculture in the Near East. Section 2 comprises seven chapters which cover different methods available to obtain information on plants, and the third section has five chapters, each covering a topic related to ethnography, ethnohistory, or ethnoarchaeology, and how these can be used to improve our understanding of the role of plants in the pre-agrarian past.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Setting the scene
17
1 Food carbohydrates from plants
19
the roles of plants and plant processing in delivering the dietary requirements of modern and early Homo
31
3 An apes perspective on the origins of medicinal plant use in humans
55
4 Plants as raw materials
71
the path to agriculture
91
Plant foods tools and people
111
10 Phytolith evidence of the use of plants as food by Late Natufians at Raqefet Cave
191
11 Evidence of plant foods obtained from the dental calculus of individuals from a Brazilian shell mound
215
12 Stable isotopes and mass spectrometry
241
Providing a context ethnography ethnobotany ethnohistory ethnoarchaeology
251
archaeological and ethnographical contexts
253
14 Plants and archaeology in Australia
273
plant use among Fuegian huntergatherers
301
wild plants in diet composition and daily use among Hadza huntergatherers
319

the importance of roots and tubers in Mesolithic diet
113
extracting plants from stone and bone
135
8 Buccal dental microwear as an indicator of diet in modern and ancient human populations
155
the use of phytoliths for identifying plant remains in the archaeological record at Olduvai
171
17 Wild edible plant use among the people of Tomboronkoto Kédougou region Senegal
341
Index
361
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