The aim of this proposal is to stablish a systematic methodology for the study of Underground Storage Organs (USOs), commonly known as roots, tubers or bulbs, creating a digital reference collection database and developing experimental archaeology. By doing this, the CHUFA project will remarkably contribute to the advance in the study of food plants among hunter-gatherer Prehistoric groups. Underground Storage Organs (USOs) are plant structures that store mostly carbohydrates and water and they had a key role in different capital moments of human history. However, they are not always well represented in the archaeological record, due to recovery and methodological constrains. This project will deal with the methodological aspects of USOs analysis. The identification of USOs is based on the detailed description of their anatomical structures: outer features of small-sized tubers, and inner cell organization for smaller fragments, for which till date SEM has been used. However, there are serious limitations when dealing with these remains: very few reference materials available, there is no reference collection for other markers such as use-wear or starches and the SEM observation implies sample coating, hindering the possibility of observing the remains from several angles. The main objectives of this proposal are: a) Application of new methods to study parenchymatous tissue remains (ESEM, 3Dscanner and microCT), b) Creation and publication of a botanical reference collection of USOs using the new methods and c) Creation of a data base on use-wear traces and residues on experimental material related to USOs labour. Through its interdisciplinary approach this project will provide archaeobotanists and use-wear analysis specialists with reference material for the identification of USOs and their processing in archaeological sites and fill in this gap in Hunter-Gatherer investigation.
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