Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 293–299 | Cite as

Image and statistical analyses of early sorghum remains (8000 B.P.) from the Nabta Playa archaeological site in the Western Desert, southern Egypt

  • J. A. Dahlberg
  • K. Wasylikowa


Carbonized grains of sorghum, with consistent radiocarbon dates of ca. 8000 B.P., have been excavated at an early Holocene archaeological site (E-75-6) in Nabta Playa near the Egyptian-Sudanese border. The objective of the investigations reported here was to classify these early sorghum grains within the known wild or domesticated races or working groups of sorghum through the use of image-analysis procedures. Image-analysis is a non-destructive analytical method that can provide rapid, repeatable, and accurate measurements of ancient cereal grains. Measurements were taken on samples representing the five major domesticated sorghum races, eight wild relatives, and samples from the Nabta Playa and Jebel et Tomat excavation sites. Statistical and clustering techniques indicated significant differences existed among the sorghums with respect to the various measurements made. Sorghum from Nabta Playa was significantly smaller, with respect to most measurements, than either the wild relatives or the five cultivated sorghums. Smaller grain size and the lack of any spikelets containing attached branchlets of the inflorescence or rachis fragments suggest that the material harvested and eaten at the Nabta Playa site were of a wild type.

Key words

Sorghum Image analysis Early agriculture Egypt Sudan 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Dahlberg
    • 1
  • K. Wasylikowa
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA-ARS-TARSMayagüezPuerto Rico
  2. 2.W. Szafer Institute of BotanyPolish Academy of SciencesKrakówPoland

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