According to a report in New Scientist, the evidence was found by researchers led by David Lentz, a palaeoethnobotanist
at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, US, in wooden beams and lintels from all six major temples and two palaces within the ancient city of Tikal in Guatemala.
Combining existing knowledge regarding archaeobotanical data with the context of the material to be analysed permits the palaeoethnobotanist
to determine if, how and when a plant was being used (Dennell 1974; 1976; Thomas 1983; Miller 1997; Hastorf & Popper 1988).
will focus on the archaeological study of Aboriginal use of plants in the pre-European period (Beck et al 1989; Frankel 1982; Ladd 1988).
It was long the conventional wisdom that beans were present in Mississippian and contemporaneous cultural contexts of the region, and palaeoethnobotanists
estimated their probable time of arrival at 1150-950 BP (Ford 1985a; Griffin 1967; Yarnell 1976; 1986).
The greatest contribution of the study of botanical remains will come from palaeoethnobotanists
who are also archaeologists.
It is a clear testimony of how fruitful the collaboration of archaeologists and palaeoethnobotanists
can be, in an area of research in which the interests and concerns of the two disciplines can scarcely be distinguished.
will find it a stimulating example of how botanical data may be used to address issues outside the narrow realm of subsistence reconstruction.