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Keywords:

  • GC–MS;
  • LIPIDS;
  • FATTY ACIDS;
  • ORGANIC RESIDUES;
  • POTTERY;
  • GREAT BASIN;
  • CALIFORNIA;
  • NEVADA

The study of organic residues in archaeological pottery has focused on fatty acids due to their relative stability and longevity. However, even these compounds are subject to degradation, which makes assignment of residues to original foods problematic. This paper suggests that the use of ratios of fatty acids that degrade at roughly the same rate can be useful to identify very general categories of foods. It compares independent information on pot function based on ethnography and engineering/technological studies to that reconstructed based on extracted fatty acid ratios. The results support the notion that Great Basin pots were used primarily to boil seeds and that pot shape and pot function were related.