September 1999 Meeting of the Pre-Columbian Society

Speaker:  Dr David Lentz

Title:   "Recent Paleoethnoboticanical Studies at Ceren: the Central American Pompeii"

Summary:  Late one afternoon in A..D. 590, the normal routine of a small
hamlet in what is now western El Salvador was suddenly if not rudely
interrupted by the unexpected discharge of the Loma Caldera volcano, just a
few miles to the north.  The violent eruption caused the inhabitants to
rapidly flee their homes, leaving most of their possessions behind to be
covered by a 6-meter mantle of steamy ash. This disaster for the Cerén
populace has been a boon for archaeologists, especially those interested in
ancient plant use practices, because the preservation at the site is so
extraordinary.  Among other things, Dr. Lentz discussed the remnants of kitchen pantries, past meals, crowded storehouses, dooryard gardens, domed sweat lodges and sacred
niches.  Although the ethnic makeup of the people of Ceren is unknown, the study of Ceren,  on the periphery of the Maya area, may shed light on the lives of Maya villagers as well.  The meeting was well attended, and followed by a vigorous discussion of this interesting program.

Biographical information:
University of Alabama, Biology/Botany (Anthro minor), Ph.D., 1984.
Eastern New Mexico University, Anthropology, M.A., 1979.
Washington and Jefferson College, Biology and Sociology, B.A., 1973

Professional Experience:
DIRECTOR, Graduate Studies Program and ADJUNCT CURATOR, Institute of Economic Botany, New York Botanical Garden. Paleoethnobotanical, ethnomedical and ethnobotanical research projects, 1993-present.
ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation,
Columbia University, 1996-present.
VISITING RESEARCH PROFESSOR, Department of Biology, New York University,
ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, Plant Sciences Program, Lehman College, City University of
New York, 1994-present.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ADJUNCT, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies,
Yale University, 1996-present.

External Grant Support:
1998-1999  Archeobotanical Investigations at the
Cerén Site, El Salvador, Heinz Family Foundation, $8,000.
1998-1999  Support for a Botany Graduate Student from Latin America,
Conservation, Food and Health Foundation, $10,000.
1998-1999  Food and Pharmacopoeia of the Ancient Maya: Paleoethnobotany at
Cerén, National Geographic, $2,392. International, Principal Investigator,
    1991-1992  U.S. Information Agency (USIA), Publication Enhancement Award,
Principal Investigator, $8,000.
1989-1991  National Science Foundation, EPSCoR Grant, Co-Principal
Investigator, $210,000.
1989-1990  Fulbright Research Award, Council for the International Exchange
of Scholars, Principal Investigator, $30,000.
1986-l988  National Institutes of Health, NIDR, Research Grant, Principal
Investigator, $2l,195.

Selected Publications:
Lentz, D.L.  Botanical remains from the El Cajon area: Insights into a
Prehistoric Dietary Pattern.  In: Archaeological Research in the El Cajon
Region, Vol. 1:  Ecology and Chronology.  Hirth, K.G., ed., pp. 187-206.
Univ. Pittsburgh Memoirs in Latin American Archaeology, No. 1, Pittsburgh, PA
Lentz, D.L.  Acrocomia mexicana: Palm of the ancient Mesoamericans.  J.
Ethnobiology, 10(2): 183-194 (1990).
Lentz, D.L.  Maya diets of the rich and poor: Paleoethnobotanical evidence
from Copan.  Latin American Antiquity 2(3): 269-287 (1991).
Lentz, D.L.  Medicinal and other economic plants of the Paya of Honduras.
Economic Botany 47(4): 358-370 (1993).
Lentz, D.L., M.L. Reyna de Aguilar, R. Villacorta, H. Marini.  Trachypogon
plumosus (Poaceae, Andropogoneae): Ancient thatch and more from the Cerén
site, El Salvador. Economic Botany 50(1): 108-114 (1996).
Ramírez-Sosa, C.R., B.W. Griscom, D.L. Lentz.  Investigaciones
paleoetnobotánicas del periodo formativo en el sitio de Yarumela, Honduras.
Yaxkin 14: 74-94 (1996).
Lentz, D.L., M. Beaudry-Corbett, M.L. Reyna de Aguilar, L. Kaplan.
Foodstuffs,     forests, fields and shelter: A paleoethnobotanical analysis
of vessel contents from the     Cerén site, El Salvador.  Latin American
Antiquity 7(3): 247-262 (1996).
Lentz, D.L., M. Bellengi.  A brief history of the Graduate Studies Program at
The     New York Botanical Garden.  Brittonia 48(3): 404-412 (1996).
Pohl, M.D., K.O. Pope, J.G. Jones, J.S. Jacob, D.R. Piperno, S.D. deFrance,
D.L. Lentz, J.A. Gifford, M.E. Danforth, J.K. Josserand.  Early agriculture
in the Maya Lowlands. Latin American Antiquity 7(4): 355-372 (1996).
Lentz, D.L., C.R. Ramirez, B.W. Griscom.  Formative period subsistence and
forest product extraction at the Yarumela site, Honduras.  Ancient
Mesoamerica 8: 63-74 (1997).
Lentz, D.L., A.M. Clark, C.D. Hufford, B. Meurer-Grimes, C.L. Passreiter,
A.L. Okunade, J. Cordero, O. Ibrahimi.  Antimicrobial properties of Honduran
medicinal plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 63 (3): 253-263 (1998).
Lentz, D.L.  Paleoethnobotanical remains from Coatlan del Rio.  In:  Urban
Growth and State Formation at Xochicalco.  Hirth, K.G., ed. University of
Utah Press (1999). In press.
Lentz, D.L.  Paleoethnobotany of the ancient Maya.  In: Reconstructing
Ancient Maya Diets, White, C.D., ed.  University of Utah Press (1999). In
Lentz, D.L. Cerén plant resources: Diversity and abundance.  In: The Cerén
Village and Loma Caldera Volcano, Sheets, P.D., ed.  University of Texas
Press (1999).  In press.
Lentz, D.L., ed. Imperfect Balance: Landscape Transformation in the
Precolumbian Americas.  Columbia University Press, New York. In press.

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