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From Storage to Disposal: a Holistic Microbotanical Approach to Domestic Plant Preparation and Consumption Activities in Late Minoan Gypsades, Crete

AuthorsGarcía-Granero Fos, Juan José ; Hatzaki, Eleni; Tsafou, Evgenia; Ayala, Gianna; Serpetsidaki, Ioanna; Bogaard, Amy
Starch grains
Minoan pottery
Phoenix dactylifera
Issue Date2020
CitationJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory : https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-020-09456-9 (2020)
AbstractThe analysis of microbotanical remains (starch grains and phytoliths) from food-related domestic contexts and artefacts has the potential to provide insights into daily plant preparation and consumption activities. In particular, pottery vessels offer an unparalleled comparative framework for the study of food preparation and consumption, since pottery is used for a variety of domestic food-related activities, including storage, processing and serving. This study illustrates the potential of microbotanical remains to provide a holistic approach to the plant food preparation and consumption cycle—from storage to disposal—through the analysis of starch grains and phytoliths from Late Minoan storage, cooking and serving vessels recently uncovered at the Knossian ‘neighbourhood’ of Lower Gypsades. The results show that starch grains and phytoliths are more abundant and diverse in cooking vessels, presumably reflecting a higher deposition of microbotanical remains as a result of the disturbance caused by cooking. The results further offer insights into Minoan storage and cooking practices at Gypsades, suggesting that cereals were stored de-husked in pithoi and, possibly, in palm leaf baskets, and later cooked together with non-staple plants. The virtual absence of microbotanical remains from serving vessels may be due to depositional factors and/or the fact that some of the vessels analysed in this study were used for serving/consuming liquids or animal products, and not plants.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-020-09456-9
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