Dowsing to See

Dowsing, also known as divining or witching, is a very old technique used for detecting

 buried objects of interest.  Most commonly it used for detecting water, minerals, and graves but is also known to detecting anything under the sun including archaeological features and sites, coal, oil, treasure, and even missing people.  It is widely accepted by those who use it and even by some archaeologists.  Even with the wide acceptance in some fields, it is also widely contested because there is no scientific explanation behind it.  Dowsers argue that humans or the dowsing rods are able to detect these changes and react accordingly.  There are two main types of dowsing rods.  The most common form used today are two thin metal wires in the shape of an ‘L’.  The user holds the short end with the long side sticking straight out in front of the user.  When the user crosses an object of interest, they cross.  The second type is a Y shaped device usually make of willow or witch hazel that bends downward when detecting a buried object.

One of the most common explanations for why dowsing works is based on magnetics.  Some bacteria and animals are able to detect differences in the Earth’s magnetic field.  This is the same principle which is used for magnetometer surveys.  Other explanations including EPS, energy field variations, and even divine intervention.  Studies of dowsing in the field have not yielded positive results for the practice.  Some argue that the possible ‘misses’ were actually ‘hits’ because the dowser detected the location of a temporary structure or previously removed object that did not leave an archaeological footprint (see Dowsing and Church Archaeology by Bailey, Cambridge, and Briggs 1988).  Other studies investigated the possible magnetic explanation and found that dowsers were unable to detect highly magnetic pottery kilns that geophysical surveys and excavation were able to find (Aitken 1959).

This is me attempting to use dowsing rods

I have participated in an archaeological excavation informed by dowsing.  Like most investigations involving dowsing we were trying to determine if there were graves in a particular area.  Our team member who conducted the dowsing allowed me to try.  In accordance with Orser and Fagan’s 1977 review of dowsing only 30% of women are success at the technique.  I am not part of that 30%.  My male teammate walked around the flags he had previously places and the diving rods moved wildly.  When they were passed to me, they barely moved.  I had to stand within the flagged area for quite awhile before they crossed. Some argue this is because the rods move in accordance with ideomotor movement or small unconscious movement usually in response to outside stimulus such as walking and concentrating.  When concentrating, people tend to lean forward and walk slower which could cause the rods to cross.  When I dowsed, I tried to stay as still as possible which might explain my lack of sensitivity.  We excavated the flagged areas and did not find any graves.  Although one of the locations had a visible rock rubble pile on the surface and, in excavating, we discovered a dump site with some interesting trash.  I was able to fit several plates, glass bottles, and a teapot back together.  Even though we did not find the graves, the items in the trash pile were quite a lot of fun to research.

 

Sources:

Grave Dowsing Reconsidered by William Whittaker

Dowsing and Archaeology by Martijn Van Leusen 1998

 

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Pandemic Archaeology

The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a virus from the coronavirus genus.  These organisms were first characterized in 1965 when two scientists were studying cultures from adults with colds.  The viruses are medium sized cells ranging from 80-150 nm and have club-like projections scattered across their surface.  The name, coronavirus comes from these projections which give the cell a crown-like appearance.  Human coronaviruses are a respiratory illness that is responsible for 35% of viral respiratory pandemics, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Archaeologists, specifically paleopathologists and paleomicrobiologists, have been studying pandemics and disease for ages.  There is so much knowledge that can be gained from studying such events.  We can study how different cultures react to such widespread illnesses, how burial practices change, the types of illnesses and their evolution, the demographics that are most impacted, and general societal changes the occur during and after pandemic events.  Just as studying past climactic changes can shed light on current events, so too can past pandemics.  Studying the evolutional and spread of ancient diseases might allow for predictions to be made about future pandemics and the types of environments that foster pandemics.  As well, this pandemic will be very interesting for future archaeologists to study, especially in examining the social implications of such a fast spreading, world-wide disease.

Remember to wash your hands and practice good social distancing.

One of the ways archaeologists study pandemics and illness is in examining the ancient DNA (aDNA) of ancient microorganisms.  The major issue impacting this research is the preservation of aDNA samples.  While a great resource for study, DNA is highly susceptible to degradation from internal enzymes and external factors.  Paleomicrobiologists tend to find DNA preserved in extreme climates that induce rapid freezing or dehydration, amber, halite (salt rocks) bones and teeth, preserved internal organs, and coprolites.  The oldest virus found was a 30,000-year-old Pithovirus siberican found in permafrost.  Interestingly, this virus still possessed its infectivity.  Other microorganism DNA has been found in Egyptian mummies, the organs of Otzi the Iceman, and dental pulp.  Future paleomicrobiologists might study the DNA of COVID-19 along with examining the many social impacts of the pandemic in our global cultural.

 

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Angela Rooker Thesis: Geophyte Use and HPRCSITs on the Malheur National Forest, Oregon

Written by Angela Rooker

Malheur National Forest

Ever since I started working as a seasonal archaeological technician on the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon, I’ve been fascinated by the diversity of plant life in this extraordinary desert. So it was only natural to pick a thesis topic related to precontact plant use. Working for a National Forest and other public archaeology experiences also got me interested in finding ways to share the knowledge gained in ways that are meaningful to the local and descendant communities. I was able to roll both of these interests together into a two-part thesis. First it will create a precontact context for geophyte use on the Malheur National Forest and thus add to the understanding of geophyte utilization in eastern Oregon. Second, it will propose a management plan for geophytes on the Malheur National Forest as well as better ways to manage Historic Properties of Religious and Cultural Significance to Indian Tribes (HPRCSIT)s and Traditional Cultural Properties.

Geophytes, such as camas and Lomatium, are plants with edible, underground, storage organs (ie roots, rhizomes, and tubers), and have been important in the diets of the American Indians living in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years. Among the most

Apiaceae Plant

commonly utilized geophytes were common camas (Camassia quamash), wild carrot/yampa (Perideridia gairdneri), Lomatium (Lomatium sp.), umbellifers/parsley family (Apiacae), bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sp.) and wild onion (Allium sp.). Geophytes are major sources of carbohydrates, but also provide protein, vitamins, and minerals depending on the species. Inulin, the major carbohydrate in camas, onions and balsamroot and to a lesser extents Lomatium is largely indigestible until cooked. Traditionally, many geophytes were processed on hopper mortars and then cooked in earth ovens, features still visible on the landscape today and protected as cultural resources. Geophyte use is most prevalent on the Columbia Plateau and portions of the northern Great Basin that border the Columbia Plateau. However, many studies only examine the Plateau or the Great Basin (Fowler and Rhodes 2006 and Cummings 2004).

Camas Plan

This can make it hard to determine the diet of people that lived in between the Great Basin and the Columbia Plateau, including the area that now encompasses the Malheur National Forest. Furthermore, geophytes themselves generally do not preserve well in the archaeological record, so much of the evidence relating to their use is inferred by the presence of digging sticks, hopper mortars, other grinding and pounding tools (including grinding slabs and pestles), earth ovens, storage pits, and upper-elevation base camps (Lepofsky 2004:426-427; Lepofsky and Peacock 2004:130). Modern descendants are not as dependent on wild foodstuffs as their ancestors,

Bitterroot Plant

yet traditional foods, especially plant foods, remain meaningful as delicacies and as touchstones of Native identity (Soucie 2007:57-59; Aikens and Couture 2007:278-279). For example, land owned by the Burns Paiute Tribe contains the Biscuit Root Area of Critical Environmental Concern, a 6,500 acre preserve of a traditional root gathering area (Soucie 2007:57).  The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla American Indian Nation has the “First Foods” program; the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has four yearly feasts (the Root Feasts, The First Catch, The Huckleberry Feast, and the Celery Feast), all of which are used to educate and connect tribal members with traditional foods.

 

Second, this thesis explores “Historic Property of Religious and Cultural Significance to Indian Tribes” (HPRCSIT), one of the property designations identified as part of the legal mandate established by National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) that requires federal agencies (or those utilizing federal money, working on federal land, requiring a federal permit, or preforming actions subject to federal oversight) to consider the effects of

Hopper Mortar

 

their actions on natural and cultural resources. HPRCSIT is a recent designation, first appearing around 2016. It came about to offer American Indians more control over actions that affect sacred sites and other places important to their contemporary cultural practices (Donn Hann, personal communication 2019). American Indian Nations are hopeful that the HPRCSIT designation will offer greater legal protection because it takes language directly from 36CFR800.2(D), namely the phrase “Federal agencies should be aware that frequently historic properties of religious and cultural significance are located on ancestral, aboriginal, or ceded lands of Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations and should consider that when complying with the procedures in this part,” (emphasis added). I hope this project will provide an example of combining academic research and management practices to find the best balance between cultural heritage and the other activities on public lands, such as recreation, thinning and timber harvesting, cattle grazing, and prescribed fire.

 

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An Analysis of Chert Usage from the Squirrel Hill Site (36WM35) – Thesis by Zac Fischer

Written by Zac Fischer,

My thesis research focuses around the Squirrel Hill site, a Johnston phase (1450-1590AD) Monongahela village near New Florence, PA.  More specifically, this research focuses on the debitage and specific cherts found at the site.  For those less familiar with the jargon, I’m looking at the specific types of stones that would be used to produce tools and the chipped fragments of that stone.  What I want to know can be summed up in three questions.  First, do different chert types have different chemical signatures or fingerprints?  Second, what chert types are present at Squirrel Hill and where are they coming from?  Are the cherts local and thus sourced by the Monongahela or are there also non-local cherts which could be representative of interaction such as trade with other cultural groups.  Third, if multiple chert types are present, do they spatially segregate between the typical Monongahela domestic structure and the anomalous rectangular structure at the site? To answer these questions my research methods can be broken into two main points: chemically examining chert types to try and produce a chemical fingerprint; comparing the chert types and debitage from Squirrel Hill to the Johnston site (another Johnston phase Monongahela village), comparing across the site, and comparing between traditional domestic structures and an anomalous rectangular structure at the site.

A portion of my thesis hinges on our department’s portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) device.  PXRF is a non-destructive analytical tool that measures chemical composition by directing x-rays at a sample.  This causes your sample to emit energy at specific energies and wavelengths that are characteristic of its elemental components.  The device detects the specifics and measures the different components in parts per million.  From the chemical data that I am collecting through this method, I will attempt to produce a chemical signature or fingerprint for cherts accessible to the Monongahela tradition.  Similar studies have occurred with varying degrees of success, so this may or may not work.  If it does work, the chemical fingerprints should help in analyzing chert types of debitage from Squirrel Hill and potentially other Monongahela sites.  How would this help?  In the case of debitage from Squirrel Hill, most lithic flakes are tertiary, presumably from late stage tool production or tool sharpening and reworking.  In other words, these flakes are very small and cherts accessible by the Monongahela at Squirrel Hill can be easily confused due to similar colors and textures.  Having less material makes it somewhat more difficult to correctly identify cherts.  So, if we could chemically examine flakes that are unable to be identified otherwise and compare the data to chemical fingerprints, we could potentially identify the chert type.  If a chert does not match with any of the fingerprints, then it could be suggested that it came from a non-local source.  The presence of such cherts could be representative of interaction with other cultural groups like through trade.

Even if my chemical analysis does not go as planned, I will still be examining chert types and debitage from Squirrel Hill.  Again, I plan on comparing at the intersite and intrasite levels.  I’m comparing the debitage between Squirrel Hill and the Johnston site to look at variation in chert usage within Johnston phase sites.  Knowing the difference in chert usage between sites of the same temporal, regional, and cultural affiliation should help guide my interpretations of later comparisons.  Next, I would compare across Squirrel Hill, for example the northern and southern portions of the site, to see how chert usage varies at the site in a more general sense. Finally, the comparison takes another look at the site by comparing between typical domestic structures and the unusual rectangular structure.  Why am I concerned about this rectangular thing?  Well, it’s out of the ordinary for Monongahela sites.  How out of the ordinary?  A typical Monongahela domestic structure is round and about 3-4m in diameter, but they have been known to be upwards of 6m in diameter (Dragoo 1955).  The anomaly is about 6-7m wide and 35m long.  Why is it at the site?  We don’t truly know, but it has been hypothesized that the unusual nature of the structure could be representative of interaction with or habitation by another cultural group.  Ultimately, I hope that my analysis will bring us a step closer to understanding who occupied that structure by examining the cultural material within.

 

Dragoo, Don

1955    Excavations at the Johnston Site, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 25(2) 85-141.

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The Mere Distinction of Colour

Montpelier is mostly known for its association with President James Madison.  However, the site has created a new exhibit called The Mere Distinction of Colour focused on the lives of slaves living at the site.  “This provocative, multimedia exhibition, offers visitors the opportunity to hear the stories of those enslaved at Montpelier told by their living descendants, and explore how the legacy of slavery impacts today’s conversations about race, identity, and human rights.” This exhibit, located in the Cellar of the site, aims to educate the public on how slavery impacted individuals, their families, descendants, and the entire history and development of the United States.

 

“We have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man” – James Madison, 1787

The exhibit opened to the public on June 4, 2017.  Both historical and archaeological research was used to create this holistic story of America and those enslaved humans whose stories are rarely told.  The emotional and evocative story is told through letters, documents, artifacts, and art, to not only tell the story of the Montpelier slaves but also the full legacy of slavery in the United States and its impact on the world we live in today.

History and archaeology cannot ignore the ugly histories.  Slavery was a large and impactful part of American history that is often glossed over or told in simple black-and-white terms.  Because of this, the real stories of those enslaved peoples are not told.  These stories are just as important to understanding our past as James Madison’s story.  Archaeologists can use the formation of slavery and interactions between the races to combat modern notion of race and racism.  Slavery and its role in American history is more than the black and white picture history classes portray.  The archaeological finds used in the exhibit and Heather Lash’s thesis debunk some of the myths associated around the daily lives of slaves.  In doing this, these people are given their agency, personalities, thoughts, dreams, and voices back.

“This isn’t African American history, it’s American History” – Hugh Alexander, descendant

 

For more information about The Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit, visit Montpelier.org.

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Information, Videos, and Image from Montpelier.org

Heather Lash Thesis: Foodways of Pre- and Post-Emancipation African Americans at James Madison’s Montpelier

Written by Heather Lash

Archaeology at Montpelier from montpelier.org

For many people, consuming food is one of the best parts of each day. The act of eating provides for most, a moment  to rest, spend time with family, and relate to others. It is especially pleasing for individuals who enjoy preparation and cooking of foodstuffs. And while the act of eating is universal, it is not associated with positive connotations for all people. In fact, the way a person is shaped and influenced by their cultural norms and traditions influences the way they associate with food, foodstuffs, and foodways. Foodways –  the cultural, economic, political, and social aspects involved in the act of eating – influence the production and consumption of food-related materials. These overlapping spheres of influence effect the creation and continuation of foodways and food traditions within cultures.

 

 

By focusing on the daily act of eating, and all processes involved in production and consumption of food, the agency of communities and individuals can be illuminated. Reconstructing food processes contributes to better understanding one aspect of daily life that introduces choice based on preference. In my thesis, “Foodways of Pre- and Post-Emancipation African Americans at James Madison’s Montpelier: A Zooarchaeological Analysis of Food Preference and Food Access,” I explore African foodways through Zooarchaeological identification and analysis. By matching each bone to IUPs Zooarchaeological Comparative Collection, and determining the presence and absence of different animals in the collection, Trends describing preference of food and access to foodstuffs can be clearly differentiated. At James Madison’s house, Montpelier, located in Virginia, the need exists for pre- and post- emancipation subsistence practices to be contrasted, compared, and evaluated. Therefore, detailing differences and similarities between one group of enslaved individuals and one free family across the Montpelier property can also delineate post-Emancipation effects on food procurement and the utilization of foodstuffs.

Map created by Heather

The Montpelier plantation is located in Orange, Virginia, about 30 miles north of Charlottesville. The main house was built by James Madison Sr. and then later occupied by former President, James Madison Jr., and his family from 1764 to 1844. Throughout their “Retirement Period” (1809-1844), the period of significance for this research, James and Dolley Madison hosted guests for celebrations and cookouts. Preparation of the festivities were facilitated by their three groups of enslaved individuals—domestic enslaved individuals, artisans, and field hands (Reeves and Greer 2012:73). These enslaved individuals formed a large community across the plantation before emancipation, 1764 to 1860. After emancipation, formerly enslaved individuals, such as George Gilmore, were responsible for their own subsistence. This juxtaposition of two time periods provides a comparison for pre- and post- emancipation food preference and consumption trends.

 

Map of Montpelier Site created by Heather

Modification of food was a very important way of continuing and reinforcing traditions. The application of African traditions to foodstuffs, food preparation, and food consumption due to the repetition of social actions (i.e. tradition), resulted in an identity linked to food. This Africanization, recognized as the modification of available resources, applied to foodways, and contributed to a phenomena that embodies much of the South, and is known as “Soul Food.” Focusing on Enslaved African and Black Freedman culture helps provide an outlet for African voices; individuals overlooked as creators of their own history and culture. Overall, foodways help conceptualize the story of perseverance and strength of pre- and post- emancipation families.

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Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

As discussed in last week’s post, Janee Becker’s thesis is investigating The Wigwam, the former home of Major Israel McCreight and campsite for the Native American performers in the famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  Along with his partner Dr. W.F. Carver, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, opened his Wild West show on May 19, 1883 in Omaha Nebraska.  His show included cowboys (and girls), Indians, military formations, mock battles and hunt, trick shooting and riding, and creative storylines connecting all performances.  Buffalo Bill’s and many other rival Wild West shows often depicted major events occurring in the mysterious wild west, all while promoting the idea of westward expansion.  Americans were not the only people fascinated by the West.  Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show opened in London on May 9, 1887 and traveled throughout Europe.

Native Americans played an extremely important role in the show. For the most part, they were treated and paid well, able to travel with their families, and able to retain their traditional ways of life.  Despite these positive aspects of the show, they were still viewed as warlike savages preventing the expansion of civilization into the West.  The Native American victory at Little Big Horn was even used to show audiences why westward expansion is needed.  In the 1890s Buffalo Bill’s employed hundreds of Native Americans, vastly outnumbering the number of cowboys and cowgirls.

Women were also included in the Wild West Shows.  Some had spotlighting roles as sharpshooters like Annie Oakley and Princess Wenona, the Indian Girl Shot (Lillian Smith) while others portrayed rancheras and Indian captives.  Lucille Muhall even made a name for herself as a roper and Rough Rider.  According to records from Buffalo Bill’s women performers were paid the same as men.  African Americans also participated in Wild West shows, although in minor roles.  They often portrayed cowboys, were members of the all-black 9th and 10th US Cavalry units, or as part of the band.

These live shows declined in the early 1900s with the introduction of television and movies and the increasing popularity of sports.  World War I also created problems for the shows.  The Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Real Wild West show had all of their horses taken for the war effort performing in Great Britain in August 1914.  The Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show went bankrupt in July 1913 and in 1917 both the industry and Buffalo Bill Cody had passed.

Source: https://centerofthewest.org/learn/western-essays/wild-west-shows/

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Janee Becker Thesis Project: Archaeological Investigation at the Wigwam

Written by Janee Becker

My thesis research focuses on archaeological investigations at The Wigwam in Dubois, PA. The Wigwam Project investigates the historic context and potential significance of 20th-century Native American performer campsites in western Pennsylvania. The Wigwam is the former home of Major Israel McCreight, a prominent historical figure in local Dubois history. The property was built in 1906 and has historically been documented as a camp for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, a haven for visiting Native Americans, and the location of a Six Nations Mowhawk tribe council house. Aside from Buffalo Bill Cody, Major Israel McCreight often hosted chiefs Flying Hawk and Iron Tail and was considered a life-long friend and defender of Native Americans.

No previous cultural resource investigations have been conducted within the vicinity of the Wigwam property. Therefore, this project attempts to locate features related to historic Native American performer campsites using metal detector and geophysical survey in the form of magnetic gradiometer survey. Archaeological investigations of these deposits excavated approximately four and a half square meters. These investigations recovered approximately 870 artifacts including charcoal, lithic debitage, and a piece of worked glass potentially associated with historic Native American short-term use of the site.

Classical research into the historic assimilation of Native Americans often focuses on the dichotomy of change and continuity from precontact cultural practices to European colonialism (Silliman 2009). Therefore, it often obscures the use of Euro-American materials by Native Americans to represent their own cultural heritage; creating a narrative of Native American authenticity (Cipolla 2013b). This belief in authenticity implies that to be a true Native American, the cultural lifeways and materials must reflect precontact cultural practices. Silliman (2009:212) rightly questions the appropriateness of using these “precontact cultural practices as the baseline” in archaeological research.

Photo by Jamie Kouba

Data collected through these investigations attempt to address the adaption and resiliency of Native American’s during the period of 1906 through 1913. Research questions will explore the pressures of this time-period on Native American lifeways and how these pressures influenced Native American performer identity. These investigations are a study of archaeological materials associated with the with these changing identities.

 

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Zaakiyah Cua Thesis Defense: Loyalhanna Creek Geophysical Analysis

Today January 24, 2020 one of our graduate students defended her thesis.  Zaakiyah Cua graduated from her undergrad at Youngtown State University with degrees in Anthropology and Geography and a GIS Certificate in 2015.  In 2018 she received the Paul Goldberg Award at the SAA conference for her work using Earth Science methods in archaeology.  Zaakiyah’s thesis is entitled Loyalhanna Creek: A Geoarchaeological Approach to Understanding the Archaeological Potential of Floodplains.  Loyalhanna Creek is a point bar of upstream of a dam in Westmoreland County, PA.  Her research used ground penetrating radar, gradiometry, and auger sampling to find anomalies and investigate soil horizons.  As in all IUP graduate theses, Zaakiyah’s research was directed by three research questions. They are:

-Are there Buried Landscapes that have the potential to yield pre-contact archaeological sites within the selected floodplain along the Loyalhanna Creek?

-If there are buried landscapes what are the extent of these landscapes, how do they relate to one another, and what was the landscape before sediment deposition?

-What is the Archaeological potential of existing buried landscapes on the selected floodplain?

Zaakiyah first surveyed her area using GPR and gradiometry in order to answer questions one and locate possible buried landscapes.  After analyzing her data and comparing both geophysical methods to each other and topographic maps, she located 6 potential large landscapes.  She augured select points along these landscapes to compare the landscape horizons.  The soil samples were first analyzed in the field using visual characteristics and then in the lab using particle size analysis.  Using these methods, she was able to identify several soil trends including stacked B horizons, buried A horizons, and restricting features within a landscape.  One landscape had enough charcoal deposits to conduct radiocarbon dating providing her with a date of roughly 5000 BP for that horizon.  From all of this data, Zaakiyah was able to show that there is archaeological potential for that area and recommends more research and sampling.

She gave an amazing and very professional presentation to her research committee and around 8 current graduate students.  One professor commented that her research is one of the most impressive to come out of the program in many years.  She spent a total of four years surveying, analyzing, and writing her thesis.  Everyone was very impressed with the amount of work she was able to accomplish in that short time.  The department is very proud of her and wishes her the best in her future careers.

To learn more about IUP’s graduate and undergraduate opportunities visit https://www.iup.edu/anthropology/

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Thanksgiving Feast

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

As we all begin preparing for the family feast, let’s return to the first Thanksgiving which happened in 1621.  What would this feast look like?  What food would they have? And how does that differ from what we have now? Many of you are probably aware that the traditional turkey and cranberries are species native to America, and even more specifically the New England area where the first feast took place.  For this comparison, I will look at what ingredients are native to America, however, not specifically to New England.  Many of the food we love to have for Thanksgiving are actually native to South America.

I will begin with one of my favorite side dishes, green bean casserole.  Green or String beans have been cultivated in Mexico for over 7,000 years.  They actually originated in Peru and migrated North overtime.  The Spanish explorers introduced green beans to Europe in the 16th century.  In New England “Three Sisters” Corn, Beans, and Squash were present. Although they might not have been green beans. But for you Corn Casserole lovers, corn was definitely present.  And squashes that would be used for pumpkin pies, although the spices would have been different.  Other than the green beans, a major component of green bean casserole is the cream of mushroom soup.  Mushrooms would be available for gathering but the cream is not native to America.  Cattle were brought to the Americas with the European colonists.  Bison are similar to cattle but were never domesticated and they do not have the large utters for milk producing seen in the domesticated cows and thus cannot be milked.

Moving on to arguably the best part about Thanksgiving, the stuffing (or dressing)!  Stuffing is made with bread.  Bread as we know if (Loaf) is from the Old War.  Egypt, Rome, India, Persia, and many other counties have been making variations of bread from wheats and like grains for many thousands of years.  In the Americas, corn was ground and made into meals and tortillas.  Mexico is still famous for tortillas, a bread-like flat baked dough that they have been making since 100 BC.  There were forms of bread present, although I do not know if tortillas would work in stuffing.

The final side I will be talking about is the potato.  Whether you use them for mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, or part of your stuffing, they remain a family favorite side dish, especially with gravy.  Most people associate the potato with Ireland and the Potato Famine.  However, the Inca grew potatoes since 8,000-5,000 BC.  The potato plant produced a rather pretty purple star shaped flower that the French aristocracy, Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, wore it in their clothing.  Not only can you have your mashed potatoes, but you can also make a nice centerpiece with the flowers.Thank you for reading this blog and enjoy your New and Old World food with all your family and friends.

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