Saturday, 22 May 2010

New Journal for Archaeological Sciences (& Archaeobotany !)

We are now about two years into a new journal, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, which published archaeobotany as well as a broad swathe of other scientific approaches and applications in archaeology. It about almost two years since the initial editorial board was signed up, and the first articles were published in early 2009. Our 6th issue is in production now for June, and will be a special issue on rice (some of the articles are already on-line first). It might be useful to draw attention to some of the other archaeobotany, already published over the past year. This goes back to issue 1:1,
(1) with an article by Walton Green on a novel, visual approach to apprehending and displaying multivariate archaeobotanical data;
(2) soil micromophological site formation process of a South African Palaeolithic case by Goldberg et al.-- but with evidence for non-food uses of plants and depositional processes.
(3) A methodological student on charcoal reflectance by MacParland et al.-- this is an exciting new approach to extracting a new kind of evidence from archaeological charcoal, namely the maximum temperature, and to some extent the range of temperatures, reached by charcoal in a past fire. This should allow one to judge the temperatures used in different pyrotechnic activities, and I suspect there is untapped potential to get at independent estimates of the temperature reached by carbonized grains, which might better allow us to correct for shrinkage when look at archaeobotanical seed metrics.
(4) A study of the archaeobotany and small fauna from late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Moli del Salt rock shelter by Ethel Allue et al. (2010),-- the evidence is mostly wood charcoal that indicates a mainly upland woodland was exploited for fuel, and a few seeds attest to gathering hawthorns, sloes and rosehips (not far off what we manage to gather with our undergraduate students each autumn on a trip down to Sussex), alongside a lot of hunting (or trapping) of rabbits, and fewer big game.
(5) Messager et al. (2010) report some even older seeds from the Lower Palaeolithic related site at Dmanisi, although it is not at all clear that Homo erectus/ergaster had anything to do with gathering these seeds.
(6) Weber et al. (2010) ask "Does size matter?" in this case is there some relationship between the grain size of crops (large grains like wheat or barley versus small grains of various millets) and the size of the settlements supported by those grains. They explore this through an overview of Harappan archaeobotany in which the an intriguing correlation between urban sites and dependence on large grains is indicated. An interesting approach to thinking comparatively and creatively over a wide region.

Keep archaeobotanical submissions coming. We aim to be eclectic in terms of region, period, type of plant remains (from phytoliths through charcoal), from shorter (and more speculative studies) to denser, more long-developed reviews.

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