As part of the 21st Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), to be held in Glasgow between the 2nd and 5th September 2015, we are organizing a session that will present topics on fermented foods and beverages in pre- and protohistory, focusing mainly on methods used to identify fermentation products and their cultural significance.
The call for abstracts is now open until the 16th February 2015, and we would like to invite you to submit paper/poster abstracts. Abstracts can be submitted by following this link: http://eaaglasgow2015.com/call-for-papers/
Shira Gur-Arieh, Domingo Carlos Salazar García, Cynthianne Debono Spiteri
Main theme: Science and Archaeology
Session title: Exploring the production and consumption of fermented beverages and foods in pre- and protohistoric communities (SA9)
Abstract: Fermentation is an important process in the production of some of the staple food products and beverages in the human diet. It is brought about by the action of yeast, enzymes and bacteria, which convert carbohydrates into alcohols, organic acids and gas. Examples of these are the leavening of bread, the production of beer, wine, mead, cider, yoghurt and the souring of milk. These fermented products are not only important for their nutritional value, their potential to store otherwise perishable foodstuffs, their increased digestibility (e.g. yoghurt for lactose intolerant individuals), but also for their social aspect. Indeed, they play a central role in cultural, celebratory and ritual aspects of different human communities around the world. Identifying the production and consumption of fermented foods and beverages is not straight forward since they rarely preserve in the archaeological record, especially in pre- and protohistoric periods. Attempts to identify these dietary products often require a multidisciplinary approach, including the use of macroscopic (e.g. charred grains) and microscopic (e.g. phytoliths and starches) plant remains from archaeological finds including stone tools and sediments, or directly from skeletal remains such as dental calculus and stomach content.
Fermented food and drink products can also be identified using spectroscopic techniques to identify residual biomolecules trapped in porous, unglazed pottery vessels. Other lines of evidence are derived from the study of historical references such as art and decoration, ancient texts, typological pottery studies, and ethnographic or ethnoarchaeological studies. This session will focus on research carried out at identifying fermented food and beverage products, and their dietary and cultural significance to the communities that produced them.
We invite submissions aimed at exploring the role of fermented products in the human diet, and their contribution to our understanding of the development and spread of complex food production processes and cultural ideas.