Calla McNamee (Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary), “Grounded in Practice: Changing Bronze Age Subsistence at the Site of Mitrou, East Lokris”
Until recently, the reconstruction of subsistence practices in the Aegean has relied heavily on the recovery and identification of charred macrobotanical remains from site contexts, typically from storerooms. This type of reconstruction provides us with an understanding of the foods present at an archaeological site, but it is heavily dependent on specific circumstances of preservation and does not inform us directly about food processing or consumption. This lecture is focused on the use of another type of evidence: starch grains and phytoliths. Commonly preserved on grinding implements, these microbotanical remains provide a means to identify not only which staple resources were processed at a site, but also to reconstruct practices employed in the preparation of these resources.
This talk provides a background on microbotanical residue analysis and presents the results of a pilot study of starch grains and phytoliths extracted from ground stone artifacts recovered from the prehistoric site of Mitrou, East Lokris. The occupation of Mitrou spans from the Final Neolithic to the Late Protogeometric period and provides an uninterrupted archaeological sequence that encompasses the rise and decline of Mycenaean palatial society and the subsequent transition from urban centre to rural community. The pilot study of Mitrou ground stone tools demonstrates the ability of starch grain and phytolith research to enhance our understanding of not only Bronze Age resource processing, but the relationship between subsistence practices and socio-political organization.