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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Pharyngeal bone of the small cyprinid that lives only in Lake Egirdir

Thijs Van Thuyne picks out weed seeds from recently harvested material.

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Subsistence Studies: August 8-12, 2004

The majority bones can be identified in the field with our small reference collection. They comprise the classic domestic species (cattle, sheep, goat, pig, chicken) and a number of hunted species (deer, partridge, hare). Sometimes faunal remains are encountered that are more difficult to identify. For those, we ask permission at the end of the season to have them transported to the laboratory in Belgium. There a large reference collection is available that can be used to identify the more ambiguous remains. We also processed the finds from the sieved sediment in the lab. Sieve samples are taken in each trench to recover smaller bones that are usually missed when only collecting by hand. The residues of the four, two, and 1 millimeter sieving yield smaller finds such as rodents, birds, and fish. This year we found fish bones that show trade connections between Sagalassos and other regions. In the Northeast Building, for instance, we found a pharyngeal bone of a small cyprinid (Pseudophoxinus handlirschii) in a context dated to the sixth-seventh centuries A.D. This species lives only in Lake Egirdir (about 50 km northwest of Sagalassos); hence, the bones are a good indicator of commercial contacts with that region. We also found additional evidence for the import of Nile fish this year. For instance, the same building yielded bones of the Nile catfish Clarias gariepinus.

This year we already washed and sieved about 1000 liters of earth coming from Sagalassos including occupation layers, floor levels, and dumps coming from the different excavation sites. Once back in Belgium, the charred plant remains are analyzed by Thijs Van Thuyne. The aim of the archaeobotanical study is to reconstruct the feeding habits of the people who occupied Sagalassos. It is possible to identify the plants which the inhabitants cultivated (e.g. wheat, barley, and lentil) and those that were imported (umbrella pine nuts). Together with the archaeozoologists it should be possible to reconstruct the Sagalassian diet. Seeds of wild plants are next to the cultivated plants. These finds are important for the reconstruction of the palaeo-environment. They reveal which plants were gathered in the wild and brought to the city for domestic use, which plants grew in the streets of the city, and which weeds grew in the surrounding cultivated fields. The last topic especially will receive some more attention, because samples of cultivated fields were taken recently (see Botanical Survey, June 20-July 1). We took the samples to compare the weed content of current fields with the charred weed remains of Sagalassos. We hope to detect changes in weed assemblages of cultivated fields. Thus, this week's work consisted of picking out the weed seeds from recent harvest material.

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