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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Thijs Van Thuyne identifies seeds under the microscope.

Bread/macaroni wheat retrieved by means of flotation

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

Subsistence Studies: August 10-16, 2003

Faunal Remains

This week, archaeozoologists Fabienne Pigière (Royal Museum of Central Africa at Tervuren; doctoral student U.C.L.) and Mircea Udrescu (same museum) focused on the Lower Agora area. The early Byzantine dwelling and the street along it in the eastern part of the Lower Agora yielded large sixth-century faunal assemblages. The consumption remains are dominated by the bones of shhep and goat, among which goat is predominant. These results show continuity with the fifth century. During this unstable period, the farmers shifted from a more trade-oriented system to a self-sustaining economy. Under such conditions the keeping of sheep and goat is preferable to cattle. The latter, on the other hand, is well represented at the early Roman Sagalassos. During the sixth century, the consumption of wild animals--represented only by some remains of hare--was apparently low. The sieving residues yielded many fragments of eggshell, and chicken is dominant among the bird bones. A sixth-century context, especially interesting for the subsistence study, was excavated inside room 3 of late Roman to early Byzantine dwelling encroaching upon the second half of the first-century A.D. portico (see Lower Agora, July 13-19). It consists of a dolium, which could have been used as a kind of refuse bin. It contained a relatively high amount of macrobotanical remains (see August 3-9) and animal remains. The fauna, still under study, consists of consumption remains from livestock, egg, and fish. In addition, bone- and antler-working are documented by some remains in these sixth-century contexts.

Macrobotanical Remains

The subsistence of the Sagalassians has been studied now for two years by Thijs Van Thuyne (K.U. Leuven). Concerning the cereals, we can now say that three species were grown for sure: emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccum), bread/macaroni wheat (Triticum aestivum/durum, see image), and barley (Hordeum vulgare). Barley most probably was cultivated as a fodder. These fields were possibly infected by einkorn (Triticum monococcum), millet (Setaria sp.), rye (Secale cereale), and oat (Avena sativa), although the last one also could have been grown as a fodder.

Legumes played an important role in the ancient diet, as they provide sufficient proteins. Two species certainly must have been cultivated for human diet: lentil (Lens culinaris) and pea (Pisum sativum). The finds of chickpea (Cicer arietinum) are still too scarce to say whether the plant was cultivated or not, but it seems very likely that it was. As fodder plants, two species were recognized up to now: lathyrus (Lathyrus sativus) and clover (Medicago sp.).

The flotation station works as it should work. It may be even too efficient! After a mere two weeks, almost no flotation samples are left. From next week onward, the recovery of the identifiable plant remains (mostly seeds) will begin. One sample of Alexander's Hill already has been analyzed and the results are promising.

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