The Laboratory of Ancient Food and Farming (LAFF) is a paleoethnobotanical lab located at Binghamton University and directed by Professor BrieAnna Langlie. The lab was established by Langlie in 2017.
We are dedicated to understanding the co-evolutionary relationship between people, plants, and landscapes. The very survival of humans is dependent up on plants for food, medicine, and shelter. Yet we also transform plants into culturally charged objects for use in sacred and profane contexts. Using the archaeological residues of food and farming as data, we seek to answer questions such as: Why did we start farming in the first place? How has plant breeding changed the crops we eat? How do the plants we eat change our society? What does the study of plants tell us about rituals in the past?
As a paleoethnobotany lab, we study plant residues from archaeological contexts. We have the facilities for the analysis of macrobotanical remains, or remains that can be seen with the naked eye, and we are setting up for microbotanical remains starch grain analysis, and phytolith analysis. With data from these analyses, we can elucidate an array of information from archaeological sites including past human plant use, crop breeding, cuisine preference and performance, medicine, drink, sociopolitical relationships including markers of status, and past environmental change. Read on to learn more.
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Agricultural terraces in the Colca Valley, Peru
THE LAB DIRECTOR
Our lab director is an assistant professor of archaeology and a paleoethnobotanist at Binghamton University in the Department of Anthropology.
Archaeological malvaceae seed image taken with a SEM
Burnt archaeological potato from Peru (ca. AD 1300)
Archaeological analysis of plant remains
In the lab, we study archaeological plant remains and agricultural systems. We use microscopy to identify the residues of ancient plants used by humans. We also use an array of approaches to study ancient field systems.