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Late Precolonial Culinary Practices: Starch Analysis on Griddles from the Northern Caribbean

On the 11th of July this new article by Andy Ciofalo, Peter Sinelli, and Corinne Hofman was published online in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. Read the abstract below!


Late precolonial (c. 800–1500 CE) culinary practices in the northern Caribbean have received limited investigations. Determining foodways has been integral for the study of cultures, yet there has never been a comparison of foodway dynamics in the Caribbean between the Greater Antilles (the presumed origin of people who migrated into The Bahamas) and the Bahama archipelago. The objective of our study was to analyze microbotanical residues (starches) extracted from 45 clay griddles (food preparation platters) to illuminate a partial view of the phytocultural repertoire of this region and explicate variations of the identified culinary practices. The griddles were excavated from three archaeological sites: El Flaco and La Luperona in northwestern Dominican Republic and Palmetto Junction on the western coast of Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands. Regarding the production of plant-based food on griddles, our produced data suggests that the people who lived at El Flaco focused on the production of maize (Zea mays L.) derivatives, La Luperona residents prepared guáyiga/coontie/zamia (Zamia spp.) food products, and Palmetto Junction ostensibly had a focus on the production of manioc (Manihot esculenta Crantz) based foods. This survey of foodways has exposed particular cultural niches, different adaptation strategies, and associated culinary practices.

To read the article, click here.

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