University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Papers

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Journal Article

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Journal of Ethnobiology





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An important concern of paleoethnobotanists is accounting for the presence and charring of seeds recovered archeologically. The possibility that seeds can be brought to a site incorporated in animal dung and charred when that dung is burned as fuel is considered. Researchers have shown that animal dung can contain seeds. Ethnoarcheological data from the rural village of Malyan, Iran demonstrate that seeds can be charred when dung is burned as fuel and can be recovered from deposits analogous to those commonly encountered archeologically. A description of the residue from burning dung, based on an examination of modern samples from Black Mesa, Arizona, is provided. Four conditions for determining whether the use of dung fuel might account for the presence of a charred seed assemblage are presented. Finally, two specific archeological examples are discussed in which this interpretation seems plausible for some portions of the charred seed assemblage: the archeological site of Malyan, a third millennium B.C. urban center in southern Iran, and the Tierra Blanca site, a Late Prehistoric habitation site in the Texas panhandle.



Date Posted: 14 June 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.