Macro Botanical Remains


Bogaard, A., M. Charles, D. Filipovic, G. Jones and N. Stone



This was the second season under the direction of the new team leaders, Mike Charles and Glynis Jones (University of Sheffield) and Amy Bogaard (University of Nottingham). The team leaders present were Amy Bogaard and Mike Charles. The flotation officers were Dragana Milosević and Nicola Stone, supported by Ertan Kuşoğlu and Mevlüt Sivas. Marek Polcyn, who is responsible for the Team Poznan archaeobotany, was also present for part of the season and provided useful feedback on the sample assessment system.

A new scanning system for all samples was implemented last year, together with a new method for assessing priority samples (Agcabay et al. 2003)). This system is outlined again below (Table 11) with some slight clarifications and modifications. This report summarises preliminary results obtained using these methods.



Bu sezon, yeni ekip başkanlarının yönetimi altında ikinci kazı sezonun idi; Mike Charles ve Glynis Jones (Sheffield Üniversitesi) ve Amy Bogaard (Nottingham Üniversitesi). Geçen yıl, öncelikli örneklerin değerlendirilmesindeki yeni bir metodla beraber (bakınız 2003 arşiv raporları), yeni bir tarama sistemi de sunulmuştur. Bu sistem aşağıda, tekrardan bir takım netleştirmeler ve dönüşümlerle belirtilmiştir (Tablo 11). Bu rapor, bu yeni yöntemlerle elde edilen ilk veri sonuçlarını göstermektedir.

Bu sezon yapılan başka bir çalışma da, aşağıda belirtildiği gibi, Batı tepesindeki kazılardan elde edilen arkeobotanik örneklerin, taranması, ayrımı ve ilk tanımlaması idi. Batı tepesi arkeobotani projesinin ana sorunsalı Neolitik'ten Kalkolitiğe geçiş sürecinde bitkilerin ehlileştirilmesi ve kullanımında bir devamlılık veya değişim olup olmadığı ile ilgilidir; aynı zamanda başlıca ürünlerin kullanımı, yabani bitkilerin toplanması ve ehlileştirilmesi/kontrolü hangi düzeyde sosyal organizasyon ve materyal kültürdeki değişikliklere bağlı olduğu sorusudur. Bu yaklaşım yanlızca Kalkolitik toplulukların ekonomisi ve günlük yaşamını anlamak için önemli bir unsur olarak kalmayıp, aynı zamanda Doğu tepesi için büyümekte olan arkeobotanik veri tabanının değerlendirilmesinde de gereklidir.

Bu rapor aynı zamanda Çarşamba Çayına yapılan 24/7/2004 tarihli geziyi ana hatları ile anlatmaktadır. Bu gezinin amacı bitki örnekleri toplamak ve gelecekte bu bölgede gerçekleşebilecek bir etnoarkeololoji projesinin olasılıklarını değerlendirmektir.


2004 Season

Another activity this season, described below, was the scanning, initial sorting and preliminary identification of archaeobotanical samples from the West mound. The central question for the West mound archaeobotanical project concerns continuity or change in the use and husbandry of plants across the Neolithic (East mound) to Chalcolithic (West mound) transition: to what extent were changes in social organisation and material culture linked to changes in the use of staple crops and gathered wild plants and in the husbandry/management of these resources? This issue is critical not only for understanding the economy and routine of the Chalcolithic community but also as a new vantage point from which to evaluate the growing archaeobotanical dataset available for the East mound.

Finally, this report briefly describes a trip to the headwaters of the Çarşamba river, taken on 24/7/04. For us, the aim of the trip was to collect useful botanical materials and to prospect for future ethnobotanical projects in the region.

Methodology for assessment of samples on-site
Table 11 sets out the current procedures for ‘level 1 assessment' (applied to all samples) and ‘level 2 assessment' (applied to priority samples). The rationale behind these methods was discussed in the 2003 archive report.


Table 12: Table 1 sets out the current procedures for ‘level 1 assessment' (applied to all samples) and ‘level 2 assessment' (applied to priority samples).


The level 1 and 2 assessment system is still being refined. We hope that work on the West mound material (see below) – including full analysis of samples assessed at level 1 or 2 in 2003 – will enable us to evaluate the usefulness of these assessment levels. We will revise them if necessary.

Archaeobotanical results for 2004
The team processed 171 samples – less than half the number processed in 2003. This reduction is a consequence of fast-tracking (excavation with limited sampling) in the South and 4040 Areas. As before, the standard sample size was 30 litres per unit. The samples break down by area as shown in Table 12.


Table 13: Sample break down by area for the 2004 season


A total of 23 samples were prioritised for archaeobotanical feedback during the field season and so received level 2 assessment. Most of these samples were dominated by glume wheat chaff (glume bases), irrespective of context type (e.g. midden, room fill, bin fill, hearth fill etc.), presumably reflecting the frequent dehusking of glume wheats stored in a hulled state as well as the usefulness of this material as mudbrick temper, kindling, fodder etc. Glume wheat grain was the most common cereal grain type, usually far outnumbered by glume bases (on average c. 10:1 glume bases to grains). The chaff and grain of free-threshing cereals (wheat, barley) and the seeds of pulses were present in many of the samples but at low levels. The regular deposition of a diverse range of crops, including small discrete deposits (e.g. unit (7948) in Space 100, an ashy hearth fill), suggests that this diversity was a feature of consumption at the household level.

The seeds of sedges, especially sea clubrush ( Scirpus maritimus ), were another constant presence in most samples. Along with frequently encountered sedge tubers, sedge seeds may well be connected with sources other than harvested crops, including dung fuel (Fairbairn et al . in press). Interestingly, sedge seeds and tubers were virtually absent from the prioritised burnt room and bin fills of space 238 (Building 45) in the 4040 Area, which may reflect intentional burning of an abandoned structure. The nature of burning in this space may offer an opportunity to observe associations of plant remains lacking the usual ‘contamination' of fuel-derived plant material. Unit (10081) (burnt room fill), for example, appears to be dominated by glume wheat glume bases and the seeds of wild plants (non-sedges), perhaps arable weeds. The isolation of the arable weed flora in the archaeobotanical assemblage, and its interpretation using new ecological methods (Charles 2002), is a top priority for our research.

A further observation that can be made at this stage concerns possible changes in crop use over time. Hulled barley – which was not detected as a crop in the earlier Neolithic levels by the previous team (see Fairbairn et al . in press) – was noted in several units from the 4040 Area. Hulled barley also occurs in archaeobotanical samples from the Early Chalcolithic West mound (see below). It is hoped that continued excavation and sampling of the later Neolithic levels in the 4040 (and TP) Areas can clarify changes in crop husbandry through time.

In terms of the remaining samples, assessed at level 1 (Table 11), glume wheat chaff is the most ubiquitous component, followed by the seeds of wild plants (non-sedges), sedges, glume wheat grain etc. Over 85 samples scanned at level 1 or level 2 are estimated to contain more than 100 identifiable items, and so are reasonably representative of the deposits from which they derive. About a third of these also occur at reasonably high density (c. 25 items per litre or greater) and could be relatively discrete assemblages, deposited as single events. These rich/high density samples derive from spaces across the 4040 Area and include a variety of fills (including burnt room fill from space 238) and midden deposits. None of these samples was selected as a field priority but they will probably feature as ‘archaeobotanical priorities' for full analysis in the future. The highest density deposit (unit (10744), ashy pit fill) contains charred animal dung and appears to be dominated by a combination of sedge and other wild plant seeds.

West mound archaeobotany
From Jonathan Last and Catriona Gibson, co-directors of the West mound excavation project, we obtained a list of all stratigraphically sound units (a total of over 160 samples). These samples were scanned and, for those of adequate botanical richness (>100 identifiable items, a total of c . 125), we began the sorting and preliminary identification. Initial impressions are that the samples generally contain a high-density assemblage of diverse crop types (naked and hulled barley, free-threshing wheat, glume wheats, pulses) plus some of the non-crop elements common on the East mound (reed culm, sedge seeds, tubers). The general impression of continuity may break down on closer inspection, but if it is sustained it represents an important contrast to major changes in domestic architecure, faunal assemblages etc. Continuity versus change in crop/plant husbandry may also shed light on the significance of an apparent drying out episode in the immediate area around the Neolithic-early Chalcolithic transition (Roberts et al . in press).

Çarşamba field trip
We were interested in exploring the wider agricultural landscape in the southern Konya Basin for two major reasons. First, we wanted to assess the extent of ‘traditional' cultivation (i.e. without mechanisation or herbicides) in the region and hence any potential for the documentation of arable weed floras associated with traditional crop husbandry practices (see, for example, Jones et al . 1999). Secondly, we wanted to collect crop and soil samples for isotopic analysis as a possible way of addressing the problematic issue of crop field location during the Neolithic-Early Chalcolithic occupations at Çatalhüyük. This is something we have been discussing with the NERC Isotope Geoscience Facility at the British Geological Survey, Keyworth. Therefore, with the help of David Meiggs (see below), who is currently assessing isotopic variability in the region with a view to human/animal mobility studies, we made the trip in the company of Adnan Baysal, Dragana Milosević, Emma Jenkins, Wendy Matthews and Nerissa Russell. With regard to the first aim, we encountered several villages beyond the irrigated plain, in the foothills of the Taurus, where crop fields had not been weed-killed and appeared to merit closer study next season. With regard to the second aim, crop and soil samples were collected at a total of 11 locations and should form the basis of a project studying 1. isotopic variability along this transect and 2. the preservation of isotope signatures in charred cereal grains.


© Çatalhöyük Research Project and individual authors, 2004