Campus Box 1114
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
I work with archaeobotanical remains to answer questions about how people interacted with plants so that they could eat and drink well, manage their landscapes, restore and maintain health, perform rituals, negotiate trade relationships, and enhance many other economic and social activities. Much of my research focuses on processes of plant domestication and sequences leading to the development of agricultural systems worldwide, but especially in North America and Mexico. General concerns and approaches involve cultural, ecological, and biological aspects of subsistence change and continuity. I have conducted research in the Ozarks and elsewhere in the trans-Mississippi South (on pre- and post-maize agriculture), the Lower Mississippi Valley (transition to farming by complex hunter-fisher-gatherers), the American Bottom region (biologically diverse Cahokian farming systems), and the Greater Southwest (earliest farmers in Chihuahua and Hohokam amaranth use). Certain plants continue to grab my attention, notably grain amaranth and chenopod, maygrass, tobacco, and hickory nuts. I was fortunate to collaborate with Cherokee colleagues in eastern Oklahoma in interviewing modern makers of ku-nu-che, the traditional hickory nut soup, gaining ethnoarchaeological insights along with appreciation for the continuing relevance of ancient foods for American Indian people.
Recently I've become interested in foodways resulting from interaction between Native Americans and European colonizers. I am currently working at the Berry site in western North Carolina as a member of the Exploring Joara archaeological project. The Berry site was the location of the native town of Joara, where Juan Pardo built Fort San Juan in January, 1567, and left it occupied by a contingent of Spanish soldiers until the early summer of 1568, when native people burned down the fort and killed the colonizers. Washington University students and I are completing analysis of the flotation samples in order to understand relationships between the Spaniards and the Joarans, especially native women who grew and prepared the corn that dominates the assemblage. This is a rare opportunity to supplement the meager written protohistorical record with information about foods that played a major role in decision making, negotiation, and ultimately resistance.
In press. (G. J. Fritz) Ethnobotany and Early Frontier Food. In The Limits of Empire: Colonialism and Household Practice at the Berry Site, 1566-1568, by Robin A. Beck, David G. Moore, and Christopher B. Rodning. Accepted for publication, University Press of Florida.
2014 (Langlie, B. S., N. G. Mueller, R. N. Spengler, and G. J. Fritz), Agricultural Origins from the Ground Up: Archaeological Approaches to Plant Domestication. American Journal of Botany, special issue “Speaking of Food”. Accepted for publication, to be in October, 2014 issue of AJB.
2014 (C. T. Adams and G. J.Fritz) Using Biocultural Collections for Education. In Curating Biocultural Collections: A Handbook, edited by Jan Salick, Katie Konchar, and Mark Nesbitt, pp. 347-363. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in association with Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.
2014 (G. J. Fritz) Maygrass (Phalaris caroliniana Walt.). In New Lives for Ancient and Extinct Crops, edited by Paul E. Minnis, pp. 12-43. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
2014 (Gayle Fritz and Mark Nesbitt) Laboratory Analysis and Identification of Plant Macroremains. In Method and Theory in Paleoethnobotany, edited by M. Marston, J. D’alpoim Guedes, and C. Warinner. University Press of Colorado, in press.
2013 (R. N. Spengler, M. D.Frachetti, and G. J.Fritz). Ecotopes and Herd Foraging Practices in the Steppe/Mountain Ecotone of Central Asia during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Journal of Ethnobiology 33(1):125-147.
2011 The Role of “Tropical” Crops in Early North America. In The Subsistence Economies of Indigenous North American Societies, edited by Bruce D. Smith, pp. 503-516. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington, D.C. (Published in cooperation with Roman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)
2010 (Michael D. Frachetti, Robert N. Spengler, Gayle J. Fritz, and Alexi N. Mar’yashev ) Earliest Direct Evidence for Broomcorn Millet and Wheat in the Central Eurasian Steppe Region. Antiquity 84:993-1010.
2009 (W. L. Merrill, R. J. Hard, J. B. Mabry, G. F. Fritz, K. R. Adams, J. R. Roney, and A. C. MacWilliams) The Diffusion of Maize to the Southwestern United States and its Impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(50):21019-21026.
2009 (G. J. Fritz, K. R. Adams, G. E. Rice, and J. L. Czarzasty) Evidence for Domesticated Amaranth (Amaranthus) from a Sedentary Period Hohokam House Floor at Las Canopas. Kiva 75(3):393-418.
2008 Paleoethnobotanical Information and Issues Relevant to the I-69 Overview Process, Northwest Mississippi. In Times River: Archaeological Syntheses from the Lower Mississippi River Valley, edited by Janet Rafferty and Evan Peacock, pp. 299-343. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
2008 The Transition to Agriculture in the Desert Borderlands: An Introduction. In Archaeology Without Borders: Contact, Commerce, and Change in the U.S. Southwest and Northwestern Mexico, edited by L. D. Webster and M. E. McBrinn, pp. 25-33 University Press of Colorado, Boulder.
2007 Keepers of Louisiana’s Levees: Early Moundbuilders and Forest Managers. In Rethinking Agriculture: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives, edited by T.P. Denham, José Iriarte, and Luc Vrydags, pp. 338-368. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek.
2007 Pigweeds for the Ancestors: Cultural Identities and Archaeological Identification Methods. In The Archaeology of Food and Identity, edited by K.C. Twiss, pp. 288-307. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper No. 34. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
2007 (G. J. Fritz and N. H. Lopinot) Native Crops at Early Cahokia: Comparing Domestic and Ceremonial Contexts. In People, Plants, and Animals: Archaeological Studies of Hunan-Environment Interactions in the Midcontinent, Essays in Honor of Leonard W. Blake, edited by R. E. Warren.Illinois Archaeology 15 & 16 (for 2003-2004):90-111.
2006 Introduction and Spread of Mexican Crops. In Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 3, edited by D. Ubelaker and B. D. Smith, pp. 437-446. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.
2005 (D. L. Browman, G. J. Fritz, and P. J. Watson) Origins of Food-Producing Economies in the Americas. In The Human Past, edited by Christopher Scarre, pp. 306-349. Thames and Hudson, London.
2005 Paleoethnobotanical Methods and Applications. In Handbook of Archaeological Methods, edited by Herbert D.G. Maschner and Christopher Chippindale, pp. 771-832. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
2001 (G. J. Fritz, V. D. Whitekiller, and J. W. McIntosh) Ethnobotany of Ku-Nu-Che: Cherokee Hickory Nut Soup. Journal of Ethnobiology 21(2):1-27.
2000 Levels of biodiversity in eastern North America. In Biodiversity and Native America, edited by P. E. Minnis and W. Elisens, pp. 223-247. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
2000 Native farming systems and ecosystems in the Mississippi River Valley. In Imperfect Balance: Landscape Transformations in the Pre-columbian Americas, edited by D. Lentz, pp. 225-250.
1999 Gender and the Early Cultivation of Gourds in Eastern North America. American Antiquity 64(3):417-429.
Paleoethnobotany and Ethnobotany
Archaeological Fantasies and Hoaxes
Archaeology and Early Ethnography of the Southwest
Archaeology of Food and Drink
American Indians at Contact and Westward Expansion
Pathways to Domestication (team-taught with colleagues)
Selected Issues in North American Archaeology