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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Süleyman and Mehmet work on the flotation station.
The flotation samples hang on a drying line
Koen Deforce at the flotation station

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

Archaeobotany: August 21-25, 2005

For several years, the different sites at Sagalassos have been systematically sampled for macrobotanical remains during the excavation campaign. This is done by means of flotation. Bulk samples from the different archaeological contexts are, after their volume has been estimated, washed over a column of four sieves with different mesh sizes (4 mm, 2 mm, 1 mm, 0.5 mm) in order to remove as much of the soil particles as possible. During the second step, all four sieves are submerged in a barrel of water in order to separate the botanical remains from the remaining soil particles, stones and bone fragments. The botanical remains will start floating and are evacuated from the barrel, by means of an overflow into another column of sieves (2 mm, 1 mm, 0.5 mm). The botanical remains from each sample that are retained by the sieves (the flotation samples) are then labeled and put in pieces of textile. These are hung up on a drying line. Once dry, the flotation samples are transferred to plastic bags ready to be transported to Belgium where the botanical remains are studied and identified under the microscope. The residue that does not float, is transferred to the archaeozoologists for further examination. In the past years, Thijs Vanthuyne carried out this flotation work. This year, writing up his Ph.D. and becoming a father in August, prevented him to be on the site. However, throughout the years, he had trained one of our workmen, Mehmet Asar, to carry out this job in a perfect way. During the first five weeks, Mehmet, assisted by another workman, Süleyman Yurtsever, separated hundreds of flotation samples. During the last two weeks, macrobotanist Koen Deforce (University of Ghent) came to supervise the work, prepare the samples for their export and make a first analysis.

This campaign, the samples from the Macellum and the Domestic Area seem to be the most promising, yielding a lot of charcoal as well as charred seeds. The charcoal will be studied to make a reconstruction of the wood vegetation in the surroundings of the site and to study the selection and use of wood resources for different kinds of applications (building, fuel for domestic use, iron, glass or pottery production). The other botanical macroremains will be studied in order to reconstruct the feeding habits of the people living at Sagalassos, but also to get some insight in what kind of plants they cultivated and which plants that they might have imported from elsewhere for their subsistence. The palynological record will complement these results. In addition to the data from the palynological and anthracological studies, the archaeobotanical remains can also provide information on the palaeoenvironment of the city of Sagalassos.

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