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1 June 2006 Root and Tuber Phytoliths and Starch Grains Document Manioc (Manihot Esculenta), Arrowroot (Maranta Arundinacea), and Llerén (Calatheasp.) at the Real Alto Site, Ecuador
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Abstract

Although roots and tubers are dietary staples in many parts of the world, their use is difficult to document archaeologically because their organic remains are often poorly preserved in archaeological sediments. Here we describe the first diagnostic phytoliths from the underground storage organs of the important New World agricultural crops manioc or yuca (Manihot esculenta Crantz), arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea L.), and llerén (Calathea allouia [Aubl.] Lindl.) and demonstrate their usefulness for identifying prehistoric root and tuber processing with a study of stone artifacts from a Valdivia 3 (2800–2400 B.C., calibrated) household at Real Alto, Ecuador. Gelatinized starch (heat-altered) and unaltered starch from maize (Zea mays L.), arrowroot, and manioc were also found on these stone tools. Our data document early evidence for manioc in Ecuador's coastal lowlands. In combination, these phytoliths and starch residues provide evidence that both raw and cooked foods were processed in this early mixed agricultural economy.

Karol Chandler-Ezell, Deborah M. Pearsall, and James A. Zeidler "Root and Tuber Phytoliths and Starch Grains Document Manioc (Manihot Esculenta), Arrowroot (Maranta Arundinacea), and Llerén (Calatheasp.) at the Real Alto Site, Ecuador," Economic Botany 60(2), 103-120, (1 June 2006). https://doi.org/10.1663/0013-0001(2006)60[103:RATPAS]2.0.CO;2
Received: 17 February 2006; Accepted: 1 March 2006; Published: 1 June 2006
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