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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Introduction: Plant Use by Complex Hunter-Gatherers: Paleoethnobotanical Studies in California


Food is one of the most tangible, persistent, and engrained elements of cultural behavior in any given society, past or present. Subsistence systems in California have been greatly elucidated in the past two decades through the study of the continually expanding archaeobotanical record. This special section of the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology (Volume 36, Nos. 1 and 2) situates paleoethnobotany in California by highlighting the research currently being conducted by scholars working in various coastal, island, and inland settings in the state. The California archaeobotanical record offers signi cant insights into the evolution of intensive plant exploitation by sedentary hunter-gatherers who maximized their use of a well-endowed but highly diverse environment. The breadth of papers presented here demonstrates the range of research issues that have been addressed using California archaeobotanical data, and suggests what that record might contribute to the resolution of archaeological problems in similar contexts elsewhere.

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