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Discerning Palates of the Past: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Crop Cultivation and Plant Usage in India
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Discerning Palates of the Past: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Crop Cultivation and Plant Usage in India (Paperback)

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Synopsis

Discerning Palates of the Past analyzes the agricultural and pastoral infrastructure of the Mature (ca. 2500-2000 B.C.) and Late Harappan (ca. 2000-1700 B.C.) cultures of Gujarat, Northwest India, the southernmost extension of the South Asian Harappan Civilization. The economic role of drought-resistant millet crops was reconstructed at Harappan sites using a three-pronged behavioral ecological approach which integrated ethnographic studies of crop processing, paleobotany, and carbon isotope analysis. The results reveal that simply recovering crop seeds from archaeological contexts does not prove local crop cultivation. Instead, this study establishes the interpretive strength of developing ethnographic models that distinguish signatures of local cultivation versus the consumption of grain from crops grown elsewhere. The implications of these results are further explored with respect to how agricultural production of millets for human food and for animal fodder may have been economically interwoven during the Harappan Civilization. The interpretive strength of developing ethnographic models to distinguish local cultivation from the consumption of grain grown elsewhere is demonstrated in this study, and new directions are provided for discerning archaeologically how pastoralism and agriculture may be integrated in complex economic systems.

Seetha Narahari Reddy is a Principal Investigator with Reddy Anthropology Consulting.

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