Johnson and Marston publish nixtamalization research in JAS
Environmental Archaeology Lab alumna Emily Johnson, now a PhD student at UC Santa Barbara, is first author (with Marston) on an article just published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. This research is based on Emily’s undergraduate honors thesis at BU, which received the Michael A. Sassano III and Christopher M. Sassano Award for Writing Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2017. The article identifies, for the first time, a direct archaeological marker of nixtamalization (the process of soaking maize in an alkaline solution to create hominy or masa, which is used to make tamales and tortillas). This is a practice that predates European arrival to the Americas, and while it the practice of nixtamalization is believed to have a deep history, there has never been a way to identify this practice directly until now. These modified starch particles should be able to be found in a variety of archaeological contexts, including ceramic vessels used to prepare nixtamal and grinding stones on which it was ground into flour. Congratulations to Emily on her first publication!