Archaeological fuel remains as indicators of ancient west Asian agropastoral and land-use systems


Naomi F. Miller; Marston, John M.

Journal or Book Title: Journal of Arid Environments

Volume/Issue: 86

Page Number(s): 97-103

Year Published: 2012


Most botanical remains found in archaeological sites are preserved by charring. This material, when excavated from ordinary occupation debris, often represents the remnants of ancient fuel use. Over much of west Asia the primary ancient fuels were wood and dung, which serve as a proxy for woodland cover, animal diet, and by further inference, land-use patterns. This contribution shows how archaeobotanical data can be used to reconstruct agropastoral systems in the different rainfall agriculture environments of northern Mesopotamia and central Anatolia. We specifically consider archaeobotanical proxies for land use intensity: seed to charcoal ratios as indicators of deforestation, wild to cereal ratios as indicators of agricultural or pastoral intensification, and wild and weedy seed evidence as indicators of irrigation.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.11.021

Type of Publication: Journal Article