What We Do
In our lab, we examine the ecology of human diets using archaeobotanical evidence from stratified sites on the Colorado Plateau and in the Great Basin. From our point of view, human diet is an ecological phenomenon dependent upon the supply, harvest, processing and energetic returns of plant and animal resources from natural ecosystems.
Artifacts from archaeological sites (and museum collections), such as ground stone tools, coprolites, basketry, and hearth features provide clues to past human diets and ancient environments. Those clues include macrobotanical remains (leaves, twigs, seeds, fruits) and microbotanical remains (starch granules, pollen grains) that come from plant species having specific environmental signatures and provided food and other benefits to ancient people.
Uniting different disciplines allows us to develop new approaches to answering old questions. We collaborate with researchers in archaeology, plant biology, ecology, genetics, and phytochemistry allowing us to address questions about human resource use, plant domestication and dietary choice in natural environments.
Archaeobotanical Reference Collections
The Archaeobotany Lab houses macrobotanical, starch, and pollen reference collections. These samples were either collected by L. Louderback in the field or were sampled from herbarium specimens.