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Identification of starch granules on ground stone tools exposed to fire


Stefania Wilks, Lisbeth A. Louderback


Ground stone tools used to process food are often associated with hearths and fire pits in archaeological sites. Proximity to cooking features frequently exposed them to fire as a condition of use and disposal. In what ways does burning affect these artifacts, especially microbotanical remains, such as starch granules? Although some studies address the impact of fire on starch-rich foods, there is virtually no research regarding starch granules preserved in ground stone tools. The current study examines changes in the morphology of starch granules embedded in ground stone tools before and after exposure to flames and heat from the combustion of wood. We found that a significant and measurable amount of intact and identifiable starch granules was recovered from all treated samples. However, the abundance of intact, identifiable granules diminished as tools were exposed to higher temperatures for longer periods of time.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23