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Bérubé Éloi

photo of Éloi Bérubé

Éloi Bérubé

PhD Students
Department of Anthropology

McMaster Paleoethnobotanical Research Facility (MPERF)


I combine macrobotanical and microbotanical analysis in order to examine the relation between ancient humans and their environment. I am mainly interested in foodways, a set of important quotidian and specialized activities that had profound impact on economy, political organization, and social structure. Examining ancient foodways can also provide insight about cultural values and the creation of individual and group identities.

I have been doing paleoethnobotanical analysis in Québec and in Oaxaca, covering a wide array of time periods, from the Preclassic to the Historical Periods. My Master’s thesis examined foodways at Achiutla, Oaxaca, during the Postclassic and Early Colonial Periods. Through the lens of paleoethnobotany, my goal was to examine how Mixtec people negotiated the arrival of new food items in the region and the pressures exerted on their way of life. Most recently, I have started analyzing microbotanical remains recovered in mortuary contexts. This allows me to identify plants placed as offerings, as well as the ancient functions of artifacts placed in the burials.

My PhD compares plant practices in domestic and ritual contexts at Monte Albán, OAX. At this archaeological site, many houses are situated right above the family burials, allowing archaeologists to directly compare the domestic and mortuary contexts for the same individuals. By examining ancient plant remains from those contexts, my goal is to examine the interface between the profane and the sacred.