Mana Hayashi

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Washington U.

Grant number

Gr. 9733

Approve Date

October 23, 2018

Project Title

Hayashi, Mana, Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'Late Pleistocene Starchy Plant Uses in Northern China: A Nihewan Case Study,' supervised by Dr. Xinyi Liu

MANA HAYASHI, then a graduate student at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on ‘Late Pleistocene Starchy Plant Uses in Northern China: A Nihewan Case Study,’ supervised by Dr. Xinyi Liu. This project took early human-plant entanglements beyond domestication as a point of departure into early plant foods in China. It weighed into existing debates on the significance of plant starch consumption from the late Pleistocene into the early Holocene, and asked questions about the timing and circumstances, in which plant foods became a significant resource for humans. Morphological analyses of systematically collected macrobotanical remains from late Pleistocene to early Holocene archaeological sites allowed taxonomic identification, as well as an investigation of plant life history in relation to humans. Findings so far reflect a broad range of plant dietary resources by the early Holocene. Vegetative storage organs (VSOs) have a significant presence in the earliest paleoethnobotanical record of southern China. The early significance of VSOs in northern China is less clear, though the young foliage and grains of weedy annual plants may have been an alternative food source. The plants in this study do not have clearly defined domestication syndromes to separate them from supposedly wild counterparts. Nevertheless, they provide clues to early human ecological knowledge of plant growth cycles and habitats, complicating the concept of pristine wildness, and by extension the boundaries between what is natural versus human.