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Research: About

Feeding an Incipient Urban Experiment: A View from the Preclassic Pacific Coast of Guatemala

This field and laboratory research project (funded in part by the National Science Foundation) represents an ongoing endeavor to explore the origins of urbanism on the Pacific Coast of Mesoamerica. Since 2016, I have served as Archaeobotanical Director at the La Blanca site, representing one of the earliest urban settlements in Mesoamerica. An academic book proposal on these results is currently in development. Future research directions include fieldwork to investigate foodways and identity politics at the borderlands of the El Ujuxte and Izapa states, two of the first to emerge in the region.


Dental Calculus and Isotopes: Early Transhumance Practices in Peru

Collaborative research on starch granules and isotope data from the teeth of camelids recovered from the Middle Horizon Quilcapampa site in Peru elucidates management practices among the Wari. Our datasets provide a novel perspective on animal husbandry as corrals and other physical evidence of herding are rare for this time and region of the Andes. Related publications: Melton, Mallory A., Aleksa K. Alaica, Matthew E. Biwer, Luis Manuel González La Rosa, Gwyneth Gordon, Kelly J. Knudson, Amber M. VanDerwarker, and Justin Jennings. Reconstructing Middle Horizon Camelid Diets and Foddering Practices: Microbotanical and Isotope Analyses of Dental Remains from Quilcapampa, Peru. Latin American Antiquity. (article accepted June 2022)


Uncertainty and Slave Raiding in the North Carolina Piedmont

My comparative analysis of macrobotanical remains from the Wall and Jenrette sites--predating and post-dating European contact, respectively--offers evidence of perceived uncertainty during the Colonial Period. Endemic violence related to slave raiding and captive taking is documented in the historical record, but archaeological evidence of this stress was difficult to identify prior to my research. Related publications: Melton, Mallory A. (2018) Cropping in an Age of Captive Taking: Exploring Evidence for Uncertainty and Food Insecurity in the Seventeenth-Century North Carolina Piedmont. American Antiquity 83(2):204-223.

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