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Charred seed of melon (left), modern seeds and fruit (middle) and 3th century AD tomb painting of vegetable melon from Thessaloniki, Greece (Pazaras 1981)
Charred, porous matter (left) with a fragment of cereal grain inside (white arrow) and a cross section of a wheat grain having a similar shape (right)

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Elena Marinova

Archaeobotany: August 7, 2008

During the 2008 excavation season, the archaeobotanical studies at the site continued with extensive sampling of all of the excavated locations in order to get more representative information on the plant economy of the city of Sagalassos and its Iron Age predecessor Tepe Düzen.

Of special interest this year is the find of melon in excavation of the Roman Baths (RB1, locus 45, taken on 16.07.2008) (Figure 1). The melon was domesticated in Africa and started spreading over the Eastern Mediterranean from the Iron Age onwards. During the Roman period it became a trade item that also reached Western Europe as a luxury food. In Anatolia melons became more wide spread also during the Roman period. The Roman melons were mainly this with elongated form resembling to cucumber, used as vegetable and were highly estimated. The present find will be radiocarbon dated in order to confirm that melons were used during the later occupation periods of the city as well.

The numerous archaeobotanical samples from Tepe Düzen inform us about the main crop plants used on this Iron Age site. They consist of the typical Late Iron Age cereal crops of the Mediterranean, namely bread wheat and hulled barley. The pulses are represented by pea and bitter vetch. The archaeobotanical material also yielded possible remains of food preparation (Tepe Düzen 2, sector 6, trench 1, locus 193 and 196) consisting of porous, charred matter, inside of which fragments of cereal grains are visible (Figure 2). This inclusion could be an indication that the find corresponds to charred porridge (like bulgur) or even the remains of bread. Further analyses will be carried out in the laboratories of the Center for Archaeological Sciences, K.U. Leuven, to establish the exact nature of the material.

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