Publication Details

Kwak, S. & Marwick, B. (2015). What did they cook? A preliminary investigation into culinary practices and pottery use in the central part of the Korean peninsula during the mid to late Holocene. Journal of Indo-Pacific Archaeology, 37 25-32.


This study attempts to understand prehistoric human subsistence in Korean peninsula through the preliminary initiation of organic geochemical analyses on potsherds. While traditional approaches focus on reconstructing the ancient pot function or relative chronology, organic geochemical analyses on archaeological potteries endeavors to be precise about the types of food groups that were cooked or stored in a pot by attempting to identify the specific organic compounds trapped in the clay matrix. Since organic compounds are often preserved in direct association with archaeological pots, organic geochemical analyses have become an important method of investigation which archaeologists use to better understand the function of ceramic artifacts such as pottery and local diets. The sherd samples for the analyses in this paper were collected from the two prehistoric habitation sites located in the central part of the Korean peninsula: Kimpo-Yangchon site and Eupha-ri site. The main habitation period of the former is around 2800 BP (B. Kim et al. 2013), and the latter site was occupied around 1900 BP (H. Wang et al. 2013). We show that terrestrial animals are strongly represented in the organic residues, suggesting that views of a crop-dominated diet might need revision. Our results provide a critical clue to understand ancient subsistence of the central part of the Korean peninsula.



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