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In July of 2011, the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology decided to combine its ethnobotanical and zooarchaeological holdings into a single collection—Archaeobiology—to be curated by Kent V. Flannery. In so doing, Michigan was following in the footsteps of the Smithsonian Institution, which had created a similar Archaeobiology program in the decade of the 1990s. Their goal at that time was to emphasize that the future of archaeobiological research lay not in gross morphology, but in studies of plant and animal DNA, phytoliths, starch grains, and other more recently developed techniques.
Flannery’s first official act was to contact the Smithsonian, to see whether their Archaeobiology program would like to collaborate with Michigan’s. They voted enthusiastically to do so, and entered into discussion of a series of joint investigations of the origins of agriculture and animal domestication.