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140 9 Botanical Remains Jack Rossen Detailed analysis of water flotation-collected plant remains from Haudenosaunee sites is rare indeed. This chapter discusses plant remains recovered from twenty flotation samples representing 170 liters of soil. Materials were collected from the three primary intact subplowzone site contexts: shorthouse hearths, posts, and midden (table 9.1). The result was a collection of almost eighteen thousand specimens, dominated by wood charcoal (table 9.2). Also recovered were cultigens (corn, bean, squash, gourd, sunflower, and tobacco), nutshell (thick-shelled hickory, bitternut hickory, acorn, and butternut), and an array of economic wild plant seeds (tables 9.3–9.5). Botanical remains were heavily concentrated in the shorthouse hearths. The wood charcoal gives insights into the dominating tree species of sixteenth-century forests, as well as preferred species for shorthouse post construction. The morphology of corn shows differences between the Cayuga eight-row variety and contemporary Ohio Valley “Eastern Eight,” suggesting some influences from “Midwestern Twelve” varieties of the Midwest. The rare find of a tobacco seed shows morphological similarity to one of two varieties recovered at Caborn-Welborn sites at the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio Rivers (Pollack 2006; Rossen 1994). The presence of pawpaw raises a curious problem. How did this species come to appear in the Corey site, through trade, embedded procurement (collection during long-distance travel), or intentional extension of the growing range? Medicinal plants such as bayberry, hawthorn, bedstraw, and nightshade add to other site evidence of medicinal activities at Corey. Botanical Remains | 141 Methods Botanical remains are produced from archaeological sites using a method known as water flotation. Soil samples are placed in a tank with agitated water, and the lighter charcoal and roots float to the surface and are collected in a nylon bag. Portions of the sample that sink are caught below in fine screen. The samples are passed through a twomillimeter geological sieve before sorting charcoal from uncarbonized contaminants such as roots. In open prehistoric sites like Corey, only carbonized plant remains may be considered archaeological, although a few dessicated blackberry/raspberry and sumac seeds are present in hearths. Materials such as wood and nutshell from the larger than T A B L E 9 . 1 . Contexts and literage of Corey site flotation samples Context # samples Liters Shorthouse hearths 8 91 Posts 7 42 Midden 5 37 Total 20 170 T A B L E 9 . 2 . Frequencies, gram weights, and ubiquities of general categories of plant remains Category Freq. %* Gm wt. %* Wood charcoal 14,568 81.3 171.7 93.9 Wild plant seeds** 2,459 13.7 — — Cultigens 596 3.3 8.3 4.5 Nutshell 212 1.2 2.5 1.4 Unidentified— general/seed/legume 83 .5 .3 .2 Total plant remains 17,918 100.0 182.8 100.0 *Calculated to nearest 0.1 percent. **Includes sumac, a possible protected or encouraged plant. T A B L E 9 .3 . Corey site botanical remains by individual sample Sample Species Freq. Gm wt. Feature 1 hearth bottom wood (hickory 40%, bark 20%, maple 15%, beech 5%, cedar 5%, birch 5%, sycamore 5%, Am. elm 5%) 1,140 11.4 5 liters corn—cupule (Zea mays) 32 .4 corn—kernel fragments 4 .0 hickory (Carya sp.) 16 .3 bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) 5 .0 acorn (Quercus sp.) 4 .0 blackberry/raspberry (Rubus sp.) 33 — bedstraw (Galium sp.) 8 — sumac (Rhus sp.) 5 — Feature 2 hearth wood (Am. elm 40%, beech 28%, maple 16%, hickory 12%, ash 4%) 3,440 43.0 13 liters corn—kernel fragments (Zea mays) 30 .8 corn—cupule 44 .5 bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) 4 .0 gourd—rind (Lagenaria sp.) 6 .0 gourd—seed 1 — hickory (Carya sp.) 13 .2 acorn (Quercus sp.) 3 .0 blackberry/raspberry (Rubus sp.) 288 — sumac (Rhus sp.) 182 — hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) 1 — bedstraw (Galium sp.) 1 — unidentified—seed (deformed) 2 — Feature 3 hearth wood (beech 25%, Am. elm 20%, hickory 20%, sycamore 10%, white oak 10%, maple 10%, pine 5%) 1,764 18.1 15 liters corn—kernel fragments (Zea mays) 110 1.8 corn—cupule 6 .1 squash—seed (Cucurbita pepo) 1 — T A B L E 9 .3 . Corey site botanical remains by individual sample (Continued) Sample Species Freq. Gm wt. gourd—rind (Lagenaria sp.) 1 .0 blackberry/raspberry (Rubus sp.) 320 — sumac (Rhus sp.) 242 — bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) 1 — Feature 3 hearth wood (beech 32%, white oak 16%, pine 16%, Am. elm 8%, sycamore 8%, maple...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780815653349
Related ISBN
9780815634058
MARC Record
OCLC
918511079
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2015-08-15
Language
English
Open Access
No
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