11. Plant Remains and Impressions and other Non-Artifactual Materials
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Although we did not do any flotation or routinely screen general excavations, a number of plant remains were recovered from cultural contexts. Many were identified by experts as domesticated and wild edible plants. A few samples of unworked material brought into the field laboratory were tentatively identified as of either plant or animal origin. No guesses were ventured about eight other samples. An effort was made to collect samples for radiocarbon dating. The number given above is taken from the lot cards filled out at the time of excavation. A number of these have been processed and reported. Soil samples were frequently taken from special deposits and other promising contexts and these still await analysis. Descriptions Plants and Plant Impressions Figure B: 150g, 153e2, Table 11.1-11.4 Total: over 395 unworked plant remains were recorded in 111 occurrences. Of these, approximately 375 in 94 occurrences were actual remains and 20 in 17 occurrences were impressions on pottery (Fig. B: 153e2), mortar, clay, stucco, and sediments (Fig. B: 150g). These samples were recovered without flotation or systematic screening of general excavations, which gives an indication how rich in such material the cultural deposits were. Most of the sample consisted of gathered or grown food. We can further assume that 11 Plant Remains and Impressions and Other Non-Artifactual Materials General Considerations Summary Number Object Figure Page 395 Plants and plant impressions B: 150g, 153e2 94 34 Unidentified materials possibly of plant origin B: 150e 95 18 Unidentified materials possibly of animal origin B: 156g, h 95 4 Unidentified replacement products B: 150f, 151a 96 8 Other unidentified material 96 338 Radiocarbon samples 76 Soil samples PLANT REMAINS AND IMPRESSIONS AND OTHER NON-ARTIFACTUAL MATERIALS 95 plants could have been used for medicinal, decorative, and ceremonial purposes. Twelve orders, 15 families, and 16 genera were identified (Chart 11.1). Exotic cultivars were Acronomia sp. (cocoyol palm), Cucurbita moschata and C. pepo (squash and pumpkin), Enterolobrium cyclocarpum (spurge), Jatropha sp. or Cnidosculus sp. (of the Euphoriaceae family), Phaseolus cf. lunatus and P. cf. vulgaris (beans), Spondias cf. mombin (jobo), and Zea mays (maize). Indigenous cultivars were Bromismum alicastrum (ramon, breadnut), Byrsonoma crassifolia (nanche), Manilkara achras (chico zapote), and Persea americana (avocado). Ceiba pentandra (ceiba, silk-cotton tree), Celtis iguanea (hackberry), Clavariaceae fungus , Cucubita lundelliana (wild squash), Ficus sp. (fig), Theobroma cf. bicolor (wild cacao), and Thevetia sp. (dogbane family) grew wild in the area. One corncob could be identified as probably of the Nal-Tel Tierra Baja variety (Paul Mangelsdorf, personal communication 1961). This corncob came from PD. 87, a buriallike problematical deposit in Gp. 5D-2 that dates to the Terminal Preclassic-Early Classic transition. Unfortunately other maize samples were not preserved well enough to determine their variety or race. Approximately half of the sample had been burned, which contributed to its preservation and recovery. Plant remains were concentrated in two structure groups in Zone 01 (Table 11.2), Civic-Ceremonial Gp. 5D-2 and Range Structure Gp. 5D-11 (Table 11.3). Most of the sample from Gp. 5D-2 came from special deposits of the Late Preclassic through Late Late Classic periods, although a sizable collection was recovered from construction fill. The plant sample from Gp. 5D11 was recovered from the well-preserved middens that formed in the rooms of its range structures during the Terminal Classic period (Table 11.4). Eleven burials included plant remains and impressions of plants. Stick-like impressions on mud jar plugs (Fig. B: 150h) and hackberry seeds were found in a Late Late Preclassic chamber burial, hackberry seeds, beans, cucurbit seeds, unidentified seeds, and thatch palm and leaf impressions in four Early Classic chamber burials, maize, beans (Fig. B: 150g), and unidentified seeds in five Early Late Classic burials, including two chamber burials and a crypt burial, and an unidentified seed occurred in an Early Late or Late Late Classic burial. In contrast to the rest of the seeds, the hackberries looked unusually well-preserved and may have been brought into the graves by rodents rather than humans. Plant remains were found in ten structure caches. Unidentified fibers, beans, cucurbit seeds, maize, possible composite fruits, and unidentified leaf impressions from three Early Classic caches, cucurbit seeds and leaf impressions from two Early Late Classic caches, and Jatropha sp. or Cnidosculus sp. seeds from four early Late Late Classic caches. Cornhusk impressions were noted on the bases of four modeled balls of copal that had been painted blue and supplied with twig wicks...


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