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“A Multiproxy Analysis of Culinary, Technological, and Environmental Interactions in the Northern Great Lakes Region” by Susan M. Kooiman

May 1, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Join us on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 from 1:00-3:00 pm in C103 McDonel Hall as Susan M. Kooiman defends her dissertation entitled “A Multiproxy Analysis of Culinary, Technological, and Environmental Interactions in the Northern Great Lakes Region.

A novel combination of analytic methods is used to address the decades-long debate about diachronic subsistence, settlement, and social pattern changes during the Woodland period (AD 1 – 1600) in the northern Great Lakes of North America. While some have argued for dietary continuity throughout the regional Woodland, others maintain that certain specific resources—including fish, wild starchy plants, and/or maize—were more intensively exploited over time in reaction to various technological, social, and/or environmental factors. The Cloudman site
(20CH6), located on Drummond Island off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Lake Huron, is a multicomponent habitation site with two millennia of Middle Woodland, early Late Woodland, and late Late Woodland occupations, as well as a late precontact component characterized by Ontario Iroquois pottery. The ceramic assemblage is therefore ideal for diachronic assessment of alterations in diet and technology in the context of dynamic natural and social environments and is employed as a case study for the multiproxy approach.

Ceramic typological classification and AMS dating of pottery residues are used to reconstruct an occupational history of the Cloudman site by which change over time can be evaluated. Functional pottery analysis of technical properties and use-alteration traces reveals that ceramic technology and cooking techniques evolved to facilitate new subsistence and processing needs. Microbotanical analysis, absorbed lipid residue analysis, and stable isotope analysis are used in tandem to construct a chronological sequence of culinary practices, which are characterized by both continuity of certain subsistence traditions, such as acorn and aquatic resource consumption, and transformative food choice in response to social and environmental change, including variable exploitation of maize and wild rice.

The diversity of the information captured and produced by each method highlights the importance of multiproxy dietary analyses in foodways studies for improving interpretive outcomes. Cooking and pottery technology lend further insight into adaptive decision-making and cultural tradition, and interpretations of past cuisine are further supported and enhanced through comparisons with ethnographic and ethnohistoric accounts of local indigenous cooking and diet. The rich data resulting from the complementary nature of these diverse methods demonstrates a complex interplay of technology, environment, and culturally based decisions, and underscores the potential applications of such an analytic suite to long-standing problems in the northern Great Lakes and in other archaeological contexts worldwide.


C103 McDonel Hall

Michigan State University

East Lansing,

United States

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Department of Anthropology