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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Inferences regarding pre-colonial southwestern cooking are limited by preservation and the ambiguity of multiple-use features. Documented techniques are stone boiling, pit roasting, boiling in pottery jars, and heating on comals or griddle stones, with fermentation as an additional food-processing category. The plastic nature of pottery allowed the design of vessel forms specifically for cooking, but storage rather than cooking was the original impetus for pottery production in the Sonoran Desert. The subsequent northward spread of pottery technology does appear to coincide with cooking use, despite initial inefficient vessel forms. Theoretical models and experimental studies have linked subsequent changes in vessel shape and surface texture with gains in efficiency once cooking jars were fully embraced by farming households. Fermentation evidence is arguable in the southern Southwest, and the apparent absence in the north is enigmatic. Residue studies and the use of cooking as an integrative framework hold potential for future research.

Keywords: Southwest, pottery, comal, food

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