Fourth-year Medieval Studies PhD candidate Alice Wolff is lead author of an article recently published in Weed Science (Cambridge University Press), “In the Ruins: The Neglected Link between Archaeology and Weed Science.” Alice and her co-authors chart new interdisciplinary avenues for research at the intersection of archaeobotany and weed ecology. Congratulations, Alice, for getting medieval studies deep in the weeds! The article is open access and available at https://doi.org/10.1017/wsc.2022.11.
Alice C. Wolff, Anna S. Westbrook, and Antonio DiTommaso, “In the Ruins: The Neglected Link between Archaeology and Weed Science,” Weed Science 70. 2 (2022): 135–43
The aim of this paper is to bring attention to weed ecology research that is taking place in an unexpected discipline: archaeology. While archaeobotanists (archaeologists or botanists who specialize in archaeological plant remains) have been accessing literature in weed ecology for decades and applying the findings to their own studies, their results are almost exclusively published in archaeological journals such as the Journal of Archaeological Science or Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. For this reason, their work is underutilized by weed ecologists, especially those who have an interest in historical weed ecology. Archaeobotanical research could help weed scientists understand the long-term effects of agricultural practices on weed communities and predict the potential impacts of climate change. This paper begins with a brief review of the history of archaeobotany as a discipline, then describes ways in which weed ecology is applied in archaeobotany, including Functional Interpretation of Botanical Surveys (FIBS). Finally, we present opportunities for future collaboration between archaeobotanists and weed scientists.