Starch Grains in Charred Pottery Residues: Results from Loma Alta, Ecuador 

The nature of starch to gelatinize when exposed to heat has discouraged paleoethnobotanists from attempting analysis of charred food residues from pottery. Pottery is found in almost all regions of the world, has a long history of use, and when present at sites is often ubiquitous due to its durability. Thus, applying starch analysis to charred pottery residues represents a significant new technique. This paper will present results of analyses of cooking-pot residues from Loma Alta, Ecuador that show that maize was consumed as food there by at least 3350 3000 Cal BC, representing the earliest directly-dated maize in South America.