Late Woodland Maygrass Utilization in the Atlantic Coastal Plain: New Evidence from Beaufort County, South Carolina.

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 5 May, 2011 - 23:30 to 23:50
Bonhage-Freund, Mary Theresa - Alma College
Leslie Branch-Raymer - New South Associates, Inc.
Brad Botwick - New South Associates, Inc.

Research into Late Woodland subsistence in the Atlantic coastal region has generally focused on shell mounds and marine resources. This reflects, in part, the relatively sparse recovery of macroplant remains throughout the lower Southeast. To date there has been no convincing evidence of pre-maize gardening, or even of significant harvesting of wild starchy and oily-seeded species in this region. In data recovery of Site 38BU1335 in Beaufort County, South Carolina a single Late Woodland period hearth yielded a relatively large quantity of maygrass fruits. These caryopses likely indicate that maygrass was either cultivated, or represents a managed wild “crop.” This discovery is significant because it is one of the earliest documented instances of potential maygrass cultivation in the Atlantic coastal region. Together with a limited number of additional macroplant remains, these data provide new insights into plant use and terrestrial-based subsistence practices of the lower Southeast during the Late Woodland period.