What role did plant resources have in the evolution of the human species? Why and how have plants been managed and transported to new environments? Where, how, and why were plants domesticated, and why do the patterns vary in different parts of the world? What is the relationship between the intensification of food production and the rise of complex societies? Numerous new studies are using starch granules discovered in archaeological contexts to answer these questions and improve our knowledge of past human behavior and environmental variation. Given the substantial body of successful research, the time has clearly come for a comprehensive description of ancient starch research and its potential for archaeologists. This book fills these roles by describing the fundamental principles underlying starch research, guiding researchers through the methodology, reviewing the results of significant case studies, and pointing the way to future avenues for research. The joint product of over two dozen archaeological scientists, Ancient Starch Research aims to bring the important new field of ancient starch analysis to the attention of a wider range of scholars and to provide them with the information needed to embark on their own research.
"For palynologists who work with archaeologists and even those working outside archaeology but in Holocene deposits, this book is essential…. Palynologists need to know the potentials of starch research, need to know how it can be recovered, need to know the types of information it might provide, and need to be alert about the potentials in order to recommend searching for 'both fossil pollen and starch grains' in ancient sediments." -Vaughn M. Bryant, American Association of Stratigraphi Palynologists Newsletter
"This book is a collaborative effort brought together over several years by a group of scholars, primarily archaeologists and particularly based in Austalia. They wished to emphasize the importance and potential contributions of ancient starch research, and to produce a basic textbook on how this reasearch is currently being undertaken and the challenges the field faces. They were not seeking to produce a definitive 'how-to' guide, but rather sought to treat methods comprehensively while at the same time presenting numerous case studies, experiments, and new ideas. They have succeeded admirably…. The writing is very easy to follow, whatever the background of the reader, yet still conveys the more technical information needed to understand and appreciate the meaning of starch granule form. The text flows very well from chapter to chapter, despite the multiplicity of authors, and I always found it enjoyable and easy to return to as I read on…. Ancient Starch Research is essential for any researcher engaged in ancient starch rsearch, any student who is thinking about working in this area, and anyone who wants to understand the basis for interpretation in this field in terms of strengths, weaknesses, methods, and potential. It is an outstanding book and I recommend it most highly." -Brian Kooyman, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology