This week, archaeozoologists Fabienne Pigière and Mircea Udrescu (Royal Museum of Central Africa, Tervuren) focused on a specific discovery from the Lower Agora that will further document consumption during the sixth century at Sagalassos. Room 9 of the early-Byzantine dwelling (see Lower Agora - South, August 17-23) seems to have been used as a rubbish dump after abandonment, and it yielded a great quantity of domestic mammal bones (cattle, pig, sheep, and goat) as well as ceramics. We found through sieving the sediment that consumption of birds, fish, eggs, and shell was rare.
The archaeozoological work finished at the end of the week, and we inventoried and stored all faunal material from this campaign. Animal remains that need to be analyzed in the laboratory (identifying fish remains requires an extensive reference collection) were also listed and put aside for shipment to the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Belgium.
Thijs Van Thuyne couldn't start his analysis of the macrobotanical remains yet, as new samples from the Lower Agora and the Domestic Area kept the flotation machine going.
The subsistence of the Sagalassians, especially the late-Roman to early-Byzantine period, has been studied for two years now. The region was covered with large orchards of fruit, reflected in the macroremains uncovered at Sagalassos. Today, the valley below Sagalassos again has a heavy cultivation of fruit trees, but interviews carried out by our team in 54 villages of the region in the mid 1990s indicated that this is a rather recent phenomenon. It's clear that the Romans at Sagalassos made use of the still mostly natural fruit resources. A whole series of nuts have been recovered--walnut (introduced during the Bronze Age), almond, hazelnut (introduced by the Romans). Finding charred remains of Italian stone pine nuts is interesting, as the tree does not occur in the natural vegetation today. Its nearest habitat is the Antalya area. Remains of leaves that could belong to Italian stone pine have also been found. If they are stone pine leaves, this would mean the tree grew in the area in ancient times, as one wouldn't import complete branches of the species merely for its nuts.
Other woody plants with edible fruits were consumed at Sagalassos as well. Fragments of fig, olive, grape, sweet cherry, hawthorn, mulberry, and elder have been recovered. Remarkably, almost every context shows remains of the mineralized seeds of hackberry. Whether or not the fruits of the tree were eaten, used as a source of oil, or just occured all over the site is not clear at this moment.