Session: #245

Theme & Session Format

1. Artefacts, Buildings & Ecofacts
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Nature’s Bounty: The Role of Gathered Wild Resources in Past Subsistence [ARCHWILD]
Foraging has become mainstream over the last decade, with many people supplementing their diet with wild gathered foods. Archaeologists, however, have been less engaged with the use of gathered resources, especially in agrarian societies. Nonetheless, in many past societies agriculture, gathering, hunting and fishing all contributed to a varied subsistence base, engendering patterns of seasonal movement even within “sedentary” societies. Gathered resources were also not only used for foods: fuels, fibres, dyes and pigments, and medicines were also among the resources collected from the hinterlands. However, gathering can be difficult to prove in the archaeological record: without clear practices of butchery, hunting tools, or the collection of seeds for consumption or sowing, evidence of wild resources can seem ephemeral at best. How do we prove that deadwood or driftwood was used as fuel rather than fresh wood? How do we identify the consumption of foods like seaweed and fungi? How do we know if shellfish were collected as food or for use as bait? How can we identify the use of non-grain-based alcohols, such as mead or berry wine? What evidence might we find for the collection and use of feathers and down? This session invites contributions which help us to glimpse these kinds of practices in the archaeological record, using both direct and indirect evidence. Papers and posters might showcase the use of new methods, or new applications of established methods. Contributions from all regions and periods are invited, however we will prioritise those exploring gathered wild resource use in agrarian societies. We also welcome contributions presenting ethnographic or ethnohistorical evidence that might inspire us to think about archaeological traces of gathered resource use in new ways.
Environmental Archaeology, Archaeobotany, Zooarchaeology, Ethnography, Seasonality
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Dawn Elise Mooney (Norway) 1
Shalen Prado (Canada) 2
Lísabet Guðmundsdóttir (Iceland) 3
1. University of Stavanger
2. McMaster University
3. Institute of Archaeology, Iceland