"Seeds as Artifacts: Investigating the Spread of Agroecological Knowledge in Eastern North American ca. 1000 BE-1400 CE"
The May edition of the Society for American Archaeology's Archaeological Record recently named Natalie Mueller, a Washington University graduate student, the Student Paper Award. Natalie is an archaeologist studying ancient native North American seeds crops in the Midwest. Her dissertation is focused on one of these crops, erect knotweed, a distant cousin of buckwheat that was cultivated in eastern North America for about 2500 years, from 1000 BC to 1400 AD. The article in Archaeological Record reads:
Natalie Mueller's paper "Seeds as Artifacts: Investigating the Spread of Agroecological Knowledge in Eastern North American ca. 1000 BE-1400 CE" effectively combines an original theoretical framework embedded in practice theory with rigorous archaeobotanical methods to investigate plant domestication processes in eastern North America. Her innovative hypothesis linking community identities with plant landraces pushes archaeobotanical research into a new theoretical direction. Her paper moves beyond identifying domesticated plants to explore the specific selective practices that led to morphological changes. The paper's methodological contribution is strengthened by her combination of experimental archaeobotany and classic domestication markers including morphological indicators. Her paper presents clear but variable evidence for knotweed domestication processes that hint at the emergence of different agricultural communities of practice in eastern North America by the Woodland Period.