Archaeobotany / Arkeobotani

Christine Hastorf, Katy Killackey and Meltem Ağcabay


    During 2000 analysis has been undertaken on a range of samples from the North and South areas as part of the post-excavation program. At the site samples from the West mound and the BACH area were processed and examined revealing some contextual patterning.


    2000 mevsiminde yapılan çalışmaların çoğu, kazı sonrası çalışma programı dahilinde, Kuzey ve Güney bölgelerinden gelen örneklerin incelenmesi olmuştur. Aynı zamanda Batı höyükten ve BACH’tan gelen örnekler de işlenmiş ve bir miktar içeriksel dizilim ortaya çıkarılmıştır.


During the 2000 field season the on-site archaeobotanical field team focused on the two excavation areas that were opened, the West mound excavations, overseen by Meltem Agcabay, and the BACH building 3 excavations overseen by Katy Killackey. The on-site projects were: flotation recovery of botanical remains from every excavation context, overseeing the sorting of the heavy residue fractions of the floated matrix, and the on-site preliminary analysis of priority samples chosen from these units. The off-site work was focusing on analysing 355 previously excavated flotation samples. This includes sorting and identifying the botanical remains from these designated flotation samples to plant categories; cereal grain, chaff, pulses, parenchyma, wild seeds, tubers, nutshell, wood, and herbaceous material. Further, we are identifying a subsample (96) of the 355 flotation sample plants to the family or genus levels when possible. This more intensive laboratory work was formally initiated in London in July where Andy Fairbairn, Julie Near, Daniele Martinoli and Christine Hastorf met for a week to work on methodologies and identifications. Since then, all have continued flotation analysis in their own laboratories. This report will report on the on-site activities.

In all, the team floated 444 flotation samples this field season. . This year we floated 350 samples from the BACH area and 94 from the West mound. Both flotation machines were operating, with a .5 mm mesh to capture the heavy residue portions of the samples. The samples range in size between .5 to 30 liters. Because of the constraints on this year’s on-site laboratory teams, neither project conducted formal priority tours like in previous years. Instead, the paleoethnobotany team had several informal meetings with the excavators during which they decided on priority units to sort in the field. Because of this, the team field sorted samples (that is fully sorted the >4mm and >2mm sized fraction and scanned the >1mm and >0.5mm fraction) from these units and were able to report back to the excavators during the excavation process. Overall the plant preservation was better in the West mound samples than from the BACH area. There were higher densities and better morphology in the cereals. The samples came from a variety of contexts, including floors, platforms, burial fills, hearths and packing.

In most of the sorted samples, we could recognize patterns we have seen in our analysis from previous years. The expected types of plant remains were present in these samples, such as wood, cereals, chaff, wild seeds, nutshell, pulses, and tubers. As in the past, wood was the dominant component of the samples. Low amounts of fragmented cereal and chaff were also found in most contexts. This combination of wood and some cereal and chaff remains seems to be the general background level of plant remains for the area.

BACH 2000

During the 2000 field season, we systematically floated samples from all excavated areas. BACH’s excavations were small and detailed this year and thus, different from previous years, the BACH team requested that we float all recovered sediment. In total, we looked at 19 samples from the BACH area during the 2000 field season.

Sample 3 from unit 6398, a platform unit, is an example of this. It has a low density of plant remains and contains mostly wood. It also had some cereal fragments in a variety of conditions, some chaff and a few seeds. The make up of the sample and the condition of the cereals indicate that the plant remains in the sample are secondary deposits and represent the general background level of plant remains in building 3.

Several sample locales stood out from this background pattern. Samples from or near fire installations, such as units 6273 and 6333 have a more diverse make up. While still having low densities and being predominately wood, they have higher cereal and chaff counts as well as material such as nutshell, parenchyma and more seeds than usual. This suggests that such fire areas were at least used for cooking food. Unit 6386, a basin/working platform, also has a moderate density of wood with a higher diversity than usual, which included a bit of almond shell. Probably the most interesting paleoethnobotany find this summer was a cache of charred tubers found a long the West screen wall. Besides high tuber presence, this unit, 6625, also has a high density, with and without wood, and a lot of cereal and chaff. It is located near a burial. This cache’s connection with the burial is yet to be determined. Overall, this summer’s initial on-site analysis of the BACH area’s botanical remains has produced evidence that supports previously recognized patterns and botanical information on some of the areas features, such as hearths.

The West Mound

There were a series of contexts in the West mound that was sampled this season, including burial pits, floors, and bins. After wood, by far the most common plant taxon in the flotation samples were cereals, especially barley. The contexts of floors and bins had the densest material, especially cereals and pulses (Lens sp.). While there were wild taxa present, overall, the wild seeds seemed to be less frequent than what we see from the east mound. Malvaceae, Galium, and Celtis were common.


© Çatalhöyük Research Project and individual authors, 2000