University of Cambridge > > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > Recipes for Success: Paleoethnobotanical Evidence for Women’s Wealth through Root Processing on the Canadian Plateau

Recipes for Success: Paleoethnobotanical Evidence for Women’s Wealth through Root Processing on the Canadian Plateau

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  • UserDr. Monica Ramsey (University of Cambridge)
  • ClockFriday 26 February 2021, 13:15-14:00
  • HouseOnline via zoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Laura Courto.

Abstract: This talk explores the paleoethnobotanical (macrobotanical) evidence for ancient pit-cooking practices at the White Rock Springs site (EeRj 226) – a large root-processing complex on the Canadian Plateau (British Columbia) where people have harvested and processed edible root resources for the last 2,000 years. According to the ethnographic literature, collecting and cooking of edible roots was the responsibility of women, and through these efforts, women accumulated wealth and prestige. Thus, women’s knowledge of root foods, and practices of processing them, can be viewed as “recipes for success”. I present the results of a comprehensive paleoethnobotanical analysis of the ancient plant remains recovered from three earth oven features at the site. Drawing upon ethnographic analogy, I examine the idea that earth ovens – as critical food processing structures – were ‘owned’ over generations by the women who built and used them.

Bio: Monica Ramsey is an environmental archaeologist with an expertise in paleoethnobotany, she studies how people used their environments to understand how long-term human-environment interactions shape cultural resilience and adaptation. She has two ongoing regional scale environmental archaeology research projects, in the Southern Levant and the Canadian Plateau. The projects employ a human niche construction perspective, with a broad range of paleoethnobotanical approaches (phytolith, starch, microcharcoal and macrobotanical remains) to investigate how human-environment interactions impacted transitions in plant-food production. Monica Ramsey earned her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin (2015) and has since held competitive post-doctoral positions at the University of Toronto (SSHRC Post-doctoral Fellow (2015-2017)) and the University of Cambridge (Marie Curie Fellow (2017-2020) and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (2020-2023).

This talk is part of the Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series series.

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