The State Museum, State Library and State Archives are temporarily Closed.

Using Maize δ15N values to assess soil fertility in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century AD Iroquoian agricultural fields

TitleUsing Maize δ15N values to assess soil fertility in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century AD Iroquoian agricultural fields
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsHart, JP, Feranec, RS
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume15
Issue4
Paginatione0230952
Date PublishedApril-08-2020
Abstract

Native Americans developed agronomic practices throughout the Western Hemisphere adapted to regional climate, edaphic conditions, and the extent of dependence on agriculture for subsistence. These included the mounding or “corn hill” system in northeastern North America. Iroquoian language speakers of present-day New York, USA, and Ontario and Québec, Canada were among those who used this system. While well-known, there has been little archaeological documentation of the system. As a result, there is scant archaeological evidence on how Iroquoian farmers maintained soil fertility in their often-extensive agricultural fields. Using δ15N values obtained on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century AD maize kernels from archaeological sites in New York and Ontario, adjusted to take into account changes that result from charring as determined through experiments, we demonstrate that Iroquoian farmers were successful at maintaining nitrogen in their agricultural fields. These results add to our archaeological knowledge of Iroquoian agronomic practices. Our results also indicate the potential value of obtaining δ15N values on archaeological maize in the investigation of Native American agronomic practices.

URLhttps://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230952
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0230952
Short TitlePLoS ONE