Noted archaeologist to deliver lecture on food as a reflection of social relationships


CORVALLIS, Ore. – The final presentation in Oregon State University’s 2010-11 Horning Lecture Series will examine the role of food as a reflection of social relationships.

Deborah Pearsall, a professor at the University of Missouri, will deliver the lecture, “Food and Society at Real Alto, a Prehistoric Community in SW Coastal Ecuador,” on Thursday, May 12, in the Memorial Union Journey Room. The free public event begins at 4 p.m.

The focus of Pearsall’s talk is on food as a reflection of social relationships, culture, and economy at an early site in coastal Ecuador. Pearsall conducted new research on practices related to the production and consumption of food in Real Alto, a Valdivia culture (4400–1400 BC) site and one of the earliest towns in the New World.

Her research looks at the importance of maize (corn) to Valdivia culture using remnants found on artifacts from homes and ceremonial buildings. Pearsall will discuss what can be learned about this society through the study of food, in the context of changing social relationships during the Valdivia period.

Pearsall holds degrees from Michigan and Illinois and since 1978 she has taught at the University of Missouri–Columbia. Her research interests in paleoethnobotany have taken her to numerous sites in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.

The Horning Lecture Series, which this year has focused on “The Historical Sciences,” explores some of the sciences that look at the past to tell us about the present. The series is made possible through the support of the Horning Endowment in the Humanities. For more information, contact the History Department at 541-737-8560 or visit www.oregonstate.edu/cla/history