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Residue Analysis of Food and Drinking

  • Date Submitted: 04/18/2012 06:56 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 24.8 
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Residue Analysis of Food and Drinking

        When ancient people engaged in daily activities, there must be some “footprints” or human traces left behind. May it be the processing of food, manufacturing of tools, burning of plants, using of herbs or worshiping of their ancestors, residues were formed from a variety of events. As a result of these residues, archeologists are taking advantage of the advanced technologies available, along with the proven use of chemistry knowledge, to analyze these minor remains in an attempt to study the consumption and production of food items and other psychoactive substances by ancient human. By comparing one article about a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit coming from ancient organics absorbed into pottery jars in the early Neolithic village of Jiahu in China with the other one about direct detection of maize in pottery residues in North America, we will look into how the analysis of drinks and food is done and different from each other, and what the residue tells us about the diet and activity of ancient human.  
Before we dig into the question of how archaeologists can determine what original materials were left in the pottery that dates back to several millennia ago, we need to know why archaeologists are able to obtain so much information about what ancient humans eat and drink in the first place. What allows archaeologists to have some sense of what our past life was like is the absorbed organic residues in the pottery, which are composed of complex blend of compounds that come from foods or precipitate from liquids or other organic substances processed in vessels and those compounds become absorbed within the walls of ceramic vessels during some human processes. For that regard, residues are potentially valuable sources of information about ancient diet. Once compounds are absorbed within the walls various physical and chemical processes preserve the compositions for many millennia. The compounds...

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