• Glenn S. L. Stuart
Living reference work entry

Introduction and Definition

From our earliest ancestors through to modern societies, plants have always been of importance to people. They were and remain a crucial element of people’s diet, whether their subsistence strategies centered on hunting and gathering or agriculture. Plants also provided fuel, were the basis for most medicines, formed the source of many tools, and were instrumental in building shelter. Further, they were used in a wide range of ceremonies, illustrated in artwork, discussed in early writings, and helped identify and demarcate places of economic and spiritual importance. In short, with few exceptions, they were of fundamental significance to past peoples around the globe.

The study of the interaction and interrelationships between plants and past peoples falls within the realm of paleoethnobotany. More specifically, paleoethnobotany is the study of behavioral and ecological interactions between past peoples and plants, documented through the analysis of plant...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Archaeology & AnthropologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • E. Christian Wells
    • 1
  • Arleyn Simon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.School of Human Evolution & Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA