Perilla frutescens of the family Labiatea (mint) is believed to be one of the first plant species domesticated in Japan (other related species).
The two Japanese varieties are Perilla frutescens var. crispa and Perilla frutescens var. japonica. Perilla frutescens var. crispa is the green leaf variety called shiso in Japanese and Zi Su in Chinese. Perilla frutescens var. japonica is the red leaf variety called egoma in Japanese.
Carbonized seed cakes have been recovered in vessels from archaeological sites dating to the Jomon Period. The seeds are also used today in Korea and Japan for making a cooking oil. If you look for it in an Asian grocery you may find it labeled as "wild sesame" oil. The leaves are used in modern Japanese cooking either fresh or pickled.You may have seen it in with Japanese pickled plums (or more properly a type of apricot) called umeboshi. The leaves are responsible for the pink color that the fruit takes on.
Currently I am interested in American education and it's role in American democracy, and am pursuing a teaching certification for high school. My specialty is in Asian paleoethnobotany (also known as archaeobotany) and I am also interested in ethnoarchaeology especially related to documenting food culture- including comsumption practices and processing and storage, and spatial archaeology. I also love gardening; this past summer was my first chance to have my very own garden. In general, I find that doing archaeology is a great excuse for being outside in the dirt.
I am interested in how mixed subsistence economies function, especially how nomadic pastoralist's use plant food or supplimentary agriculture practices- somtimes known as agropastoralists. I have conducted paleoethnobotantical invesitgations in past summers to help investigate these questions. During the summer of 2005, I worked in China at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Archaeology with Dr. Zhao Zhijun, and also worked on two field projects in Kazakhstan. One was in Northern Kazakhstan under the direction of Dr. Sandra Olsen of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the other in Southern Kazakhstan was under the direction of Prof. Michael Frachetti. The summer of 2004 I undertook sample collection and field work on projects in Taiwan and Mongolia.
I have additional paleoethnobotanical experience and archaeological field experience in the American Southwest, where I worked at the Museum of New Mexico, Office of Archaeological Studies (OAS) in Santa Fe. My field school experience was on San Salvador Island, in the Bahamas. I conducted ethnoarchaeological field research, relating to houses, households and space-use, in Nepal during the fall of 1999 while an undergraduate as part of CNSP. I completed my undergraduate degree in the Anthropology Department and Archaeology Program at Cornell University, Ithaca NY.
updated Oct. 24, 2006