Thanksgiving Special: The Archaeology of Ancient Diets and Environments
November 23, 2011
Hosted by Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein
Thanksgiving calls to mind a series of foods whose origins are assumed to be uniquely North American or European. In addition to the turkey, native to North America but domesticated in Europe, the balance of the traditional Thanksgiving diet consists of roots, berries, and plant foods whose origins are as exotic as they are diverse. Archaeology provides insights into former diets and environments because the remains of foods and plants are often preserved at ancient sites. They include burnt seeds, fossil grasses, and ancient pollen (yes, the kind that cause spring sneezing!). Their presence is readily detectable on ancient house floors and within sediments that often contain plant matter indicative of former vegetation and climates. One of the best dietary indicators is fossilized human waste that preserves a wide range of ingested foodstuffs. Our guest is Dr. Linda Scott-Cummings a recognized authority in reconstructing natural vegetation histories and ancient human dietary patterns.
Indiana Jones: Myth, Reality and 21st Century Archaeology
Archives Available on VoiceAmerica Variety Channel
This show targets an audience interested in archaeology. It explores myths surrounding this exotic, often misunderstood field and acquaints listeners with the contemporary practice of unearthing the human past. Themes range from Dr. Schuldenrein’s own “Indiana Jones”-like adventures in the land of the Bible to his team’s archaeological forensics effort to unearth Kurdish mass graves in Iraq. That undertaking helped convict Saddam Hussein in 2006. Topical issues contribute to the evolution vs. creationism controversy based on updated fossil records and innovative DNA studies. An episode highlights the main funding source for archaeology in the U.S. (Hint: the oil and gas industry). Experts reveal the latest high-tech approaches to buried archaeological landscapes that provide clues to understanding climate change, past, present and future.
Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein
Joseph Schuldenrein is president and senior scientist of Geoarcheology Research Associates (GRA) in Yonkers, New York. He has been a Visiting Scholar at New York University since 1996. His professional expertise is in geoarchaeology, a sub-discipline that introduces earth science techniques to traditional archaeological excavation. Joe has worked extensively across North America and the Old World. He received his doctorate in 1983 at the University of Chicago. Recent research in North America has concentrated on the urban archaeology of New York City and Native American landscapes of the Atlantic Coast. Joe’s projects in South Asia have ranged from Human Origins investigations to the beginnings of civilization of the Indus Valley. During the Iraq war Dr. Schuldenrein’s team helped direct a forensic archaeological mission in support of the Saddam Hussein prosecution. His newest venture is an assessment of Cultural Heritage Sites in war-torn Afghanistan (2011). Dr. Schuldenrein publishes widely in numerous archaeological and geological journals. He is a reviewer for American Antiquity, Geoarchaeology, and Quaternary Science Reviews. He has acted as Principal Investigator or Consulting Scientist for grants awarded by the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory. Dr. Schuldenrein has been interviewed for PBS, as well as national and regional TV and radio outlets over the past 30 years.