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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Promise of Microbotanical Research in California: A Case Study from CA-SBA-53, a Middle Holocene Archaeological Site along Goleta Slough


Ancient starch research is a burgeoning field in archaeology, and is growing in popularity in California. This study looks at starch granules extracted from groundstone tools found at CA-SBA-53, a large middle Holocene site on the Goleta Slough. The middle Holocene is one of the least understood time periods in the Santa Barbara Channel region; little in particular is known about subsistence practices, and even less about plant usage. Understanding subsistence can shed light on other questions relating to settlement patterns, seasonality, and even social organization during this period. This study’s findings suggest that acorns were part of the middle Holocene diet 5,500 years ago, and made up 15% of the starch assemblage. However, more research is needed to contextualize these findings, both in relationship to other taxa consumed, and to other time periods in prehistory.

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