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Paleobotany And Paleoethnobotany

In paleobotany, the remains of plants recovered from prehistoric soil deposits are analyzed to determine the species of plants that were present, the parts of the plant used, the time of year they were collected, and genetic changes in the plant species over time. In order to use this technique, the paleobotanist must have access to a complete reference collection indicating the changes in a plant species over time. Paleobotanists have, using this technique, been able to reconstruct information about prehistoric climates, patterns of plant use, seasonal patterns of site occupation, vegetables included in diets, and transitions from plant-gathering to plant-cultivation practices.

The paleoethnobotanist, like the paleobotanist, studies plant remains in the context of archeology, but in addition looks at the interactions between the plant materials and the people who used them. The first techniques used for plant recovery involved methods of flotation to separate organic from inorganic matter. Modified flotation techniques are still used to extract carbonized plant fragments from sediment. Modern analytical techniques for examining recovered plant materials, based on genetic and DNA research, permit the identification of plant proteins, isotopes, starches, and lipids. With these methods, it has been possible to determine the sequences of domestication of such plants as maize, wheat, barley, and rice.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Anticolonialism in Southeast Asia - Categories And Features Of Anticolonialism to Ascorbic acidArchaeometry - Archaeomagnetic And Paleomagnetic Dating, Dendrochronology, Fission-track Dating, Lithics, Luminescence Dating, Metals Analysis