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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023 OA / Predynastic and Early Dynastic plant economy in the Nile Delta: archaeobotanical evidence from Tell el-Iswid

Elena Marinova, Sidonie Preiss, Nathalie Buchez, Elshafey A Attia, and Beatrix Midant-Reynes (2024)

Predynastic and Early Dynastic plant economy in the Nile Delta: archaeobotanical evidence from Tell el-Iswid

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 33(IRSNB):103-110.

The large-scale excavation at the prehistoric site of Tell el-Iswid made it possible to undertake a systematic archaeobotanical study of different structures covering the Predynastic and Early Dynastic period (Lower Egyptian Cultures (Buto II) to Naqada III Culture. Here we present the results of the analysis of carpological remains preserved mostly in charred state and coming from 62 samples processed by manual flotation, with total volume of 615 litres and containing a total of 9672 identifiable and quantifiable items. Further ca. 650 wood fragments (or woody vegetative remains) were subject to anthracological analysis. Besides the aim of overall characterising and exploring the plant economy of the site, the macrobotanical assemblages were also considered in relation to the structures from which they were uncovered. The study revealed that the agricultural economy of both studied periods relied on emmer, barley, lentils, and pea, but from the Early Dynastic times onwards also flax and condiments (like Anethum graveolens and cf. Origanum sp.) played a certain role. Together with the cultivated fields also the surrounding wetlands were an important part of the plant resources utilized at site. The stems of Phragmites are also the most common among the anthracological remains, together with a small proportion of Tamarix and Acacia charcoal fragments. The overall composition of the plant assemblages (charred and mineralised chaff, small weed or wild growing seeds capable to pass the herbivore digestion, dung fragments, awns) suggest that the major source of the retrieved plant remains was dung fuel.
Peer Review, Impact Factor
Plant macrofossils, Crop processing, dung fuel, land use, Neolo
  • ISSN: 0939-6314 print
  • ISSN: 1617-6278 electronic
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