Max Planck Research Group on Plant Foods in Hominin Dietary Ecology

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Antje HutschenreutherI am a Postdoctoral researcher in the Plant Foods and Hominin Dietary Ecology Group. My main research interests are aspects related to pyrotechnological practices in the archaeological record. These aspects can be divided into two main categories:

  1. The identification of combustion features and fuel materials that were used in antiquity, and the formation/degradation processes that may affect their archaeological remains.
  2. Human behavior related to fuel selection and fire management, especially in relation to cooking and to human-environment relationship.

My main projects will include experimental study of the different fuel materials (e.g. wood, dung, bone, grasses etc.), how their micro-remains form (such as phytoliths, ash pseudomorphs and dung sperulites), and the degradation processes that affect them, using traditional and FTIR microscopy. These analyses will improve our ability to identify the different proxies for the use of fire and fuel materials. 
The second part of the project will be an ethnoarchaeological study of the human factor in relation to the chaîne opératoire of pyrotechnological practices. I am especially interested in how the natural and anthropogenic environmental setting is reflected in fuel selection and collection, and what were the benefits of cooking vs. the effort invested in this activity. These studies will help us achieve better understanding of the role of cooking in human evolution.

Max Planck Research Group on Plant Foods in Hominin Dietary Ecology
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 341 3550 827