Original Article

Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 17, Supplement 1, pp 35-41

First online:

Storage of crops during the fourth and third millennia b.c. at the settlement mound of Tell Brak, northeast Syria

  • Mette Marie HaldAffiliated withDepartment of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen Email author 
  • , Mike CharlesAffiliated withDepartment of Archaeology, University of Sheffield

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Excavations at Tell Brak in northeast Syria have uncovered two monumental non-domestic structures from the fourth and third millennia b.c. respectively, containing evidence for large-scale supra-household economic organisation. The charred plant remains from these structures include glume wheat, two-row hulled barley and flax, all found in storage contexts. In the fourth millennium b.c. (the late Chalcolithic), barley grain and flax seeds have been found in storage contexts, as well as glume wheat chaff, indicating the economic importance of this by-product of crop processing. In the third millennium b.c. (the early Bronze Age), barley is the only crop found in a definite storage context, indicating that storage practices may have changed by this time and focused on a much narrower range of crops to be held in communal storage.


Archaeobotany Crop storage Tell Brak Late Chalcolithic Early Bronze Age Northern Mesopotamia