Mailbag: Grasses and bedding

Re: MSA sorghum use and starches adhering to tools non-obvious for seed processing:

Dear John Hawks: Just saw your item about grains of Sorghum on Ngalue cave articfacts, and the puzzle about the abundance of grass in the cave. It reminded me of the pleasant grass that covered the hut floors I slept on during a field trip to the mountains of Pakistan. Could the grass in the cave have had similar uses? (Just a thought, no reply needed).

We have a lot of evidence of grasses being brought into caves because of phytoliths in grass leaves and stems. The Neandertals at Kebara cave, for example, were apparently bringing in grass to use for bedding or floor covering.

In this case, it is starch granules that are adhering to the tools, which would be coming from the seeds themselves, if I understand correctly. That seems unlikely to be seeds that are just adhering to stems and leaves used for other purposes, it wouldn’t be enough.