Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Peacock, Evan

Committee Member

Rafferty, Janet

Committee Member

Hogue, S. Homes

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures


Maize uses a photosynthetic pathway called C4 which produces a carbon signature in animal tissue that is different from most of the plants available to the inhabitants of the Southeastern United States. Faunal remains (deer, rodent, and turtle) from Pocahontas Mounds (22HI500) and Lyon’s Bluff (22OK520) were tested to determine whether the samples possessed a C4 signature. Maize has been found at both sites, but the extent of maize agriculture was not known. Rodent and turtle from both sites indicate partial to heavy consumption of C4 plants, while one deer sample from Pocahontas indicates moderate consumption of C4 plants. The faunal assemblage from Pocahontas was also tested for niche breadth to see if there was evidence for land clearance associated with agriculture. There appeared to be little to no change in the choice of animals through time at Pocahontas Mounds, so a large amount of land clearance is not supported. The results provide an indirect evidence for maize in the diet humans.