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Article
Stone-boiling maize with limestone: experimental results and implications for nutrition among SE Utah preceramic groups
Journal of Archaeological Science
  • Emily C. Ellwood, Archaeological Investigations Northwest, Inc.
  • M. Paul Scott, United States Department of Agriculture
  • William D. Lipe, Washington State University
  • R. G. Matson, University of British Columbia
  • John G. Jones, Washington State University
Document Type
Article
Publication Version
Published Version
Publication Date
1-1-2013
DOI
10.1016/j.jas.2012.05.044
Abstract
Groups living on Cedar Mesa, SE Utah in the late Basketmaker II period (Grand Gulch phase, AD 200–400) were heavily maize-dependent, but lacked beans as a supplemental plant protein, and pottery vessels for cooking. Common occurrence of limestone fragments in their household middens suggests 1) limestone may have been used as the heating element for stone-boiling maize and 2) this practice might have made some maize proteins more available for human nutrition. Experiments examined these possibilities; results indicate that stone-boiling with Cedar Mesa limestone creates an alkaline cooking environment suitable for nixtamalization of maize kernels, and that maize cooked in this fashion shows significant increases in availability of lysine, tryptophan, and methionine. Archaeological limestone fragments from a Grand Gulch phase site show amounts of fragmentation and changes in density consistent with repeated heating. While not conclusive, these data indicate that further research (e.g., examination of archaeological limestone fragments for maize starch grains or phytoliths) is warranted. It is suggested that greater attention be paid to archaeological indications of stone-boiling with limestone among maize-dependent but pre-pottery societies.
Comments

This article is published as Ellwood, Emily C., M. Paul Scott, William D. Lipe, R. G. Matson, and John G. Jones. "Stone-boiling maize with limestone: experimental results and implications for nutrition among SE Utah preceramic groups." Journal of Archaeological Science 40, no. 1 (2013): 35-44, doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.05.044.

Rights
Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.
Language
en
File Format
application/pdf
Citation Information
Emily C. Ellwood, M. Paul Scott, William D. Lipe, R. G. Matson, et al.. "Stone-boiling maize with limestone: experimental results and implications for nutrition among SE Utah preceramic groups" Journal of Archaeological Science Vol. 40 Iss. 1 (2013) p. 35 - 44
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/paul-scott/61/