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Infusion cuisine: a study of the value of foods in a pottery context across the transition to agriculture in the southern Baltic

Saul, Hayley (2011) Infusion cuisine: a study of the value of foods in a pottery context across the transition to agriculture in the southern Baltic. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Pottery residues offer a promising source of evidence about the types of food that were important in the Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic, as domesticates began to be incorporated into culinary use. It is argued that although residues are not a reflection of the economy, there were diverse values to food that contributed to the sequence that domesticates appear in the archaeological record, as well as the seeming rate and extent to which they were adopted. Although calorific value has received attention (Rowley-Conwy 1984), and prestige models (Fischer 2002) acknowledge the social embeddedness of food culture, foods are also implicated in multiple evaluation processes that cross-cut the categories of ritual and mundane, prestige and subsistence. Ethnographic accounts suggest that food may be valued as perhaps medicine, for aesthetic purposes, for inducing altered consciousness, as well as negative values such as toxicity or pollution, to name a few. One way of understanding the concept of Cuisine is to suggest that it is a selective mixing and manipulation of these values into a cultural notion of food, rather than simply a literal mixing of food units into a meal, or menu. Such a concept of Cuisine is expressed in traditions of pottery use, through the choices of what it is acceptable to use certain vessels for. Investigating the values of food over time can suggest what motivations brought about a change in culinary practices to include domesticates. This thesis reports on the results of multi-disciplinary analyses of pottery residues from sites in the southern Baltic. Lipid characterisation techniques and isotope analyses of absorbed residues and surface deposits were combined with novel plant microfossil investigations of starches from the surface ‘foodcrusts’, and stylistic information on the pots. An automated programme was developed to assign starches to a taxonomic class, based on comparison to modern reference examples according to 26 morphological variables. The combined findings suggest that foods were implicated in multiple processes of evaluation, not all of which directly motivated the change to a domesticated food economy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Ceramics, Mesolithic, Neolithic, agriculture, transitions, starch, phytoliths, lipids, residues, Baltic
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Ms Hayley Saul
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2011 15:05
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1712

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