Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 207–212 | Cite as

Radiocarbon age of carbonate in fruits of Lithospermum from the early Bronze Age settlement of Hirbet ez-Zeraqōn (Jordan)

  • Konstantin E. Pustovoytov
  • Simone Riehl
  • Siegfried Mittmann
Original Article


Uncarbonized fruits of the Boraginaceae occur widely in cultural layers of archaeological sites in the Mediterranean and the Near East. To date, interpreting their origin remains problematic. It is difficult for archaeobotanists to tell whether such fruits were deposited as part of the cultural layer or were introduced post-depositionally. In an attempt to answer this question for the early Bronze Age site of Hirbet ez-Zeraqon (Jordan), we used direct 14C dating of biogenic carbonate from calcareous fruits of Lithospermum. The radiocarbon ages of seven fossil samples of the fruits suggest that they originate from plants that grew during or around the time of occupation.


Archaeobotany Lithospermum Biogenic carbonate Radiocarbon dating Near East Early Bronze Age 



We thank M. Nesbitt, S. Jacomet and F. Bittmann for valuable comments on an earlier draft, and M. Charles and an anonymous reviewer for the revision of the article and helpful remarks. We also thank James Greig for improving the English. The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany (BMBF/PTJ) and supported in part by the German Research Council.


  1. Amundson, R., Wang, Y., Chadwick, O., Trumbore, S., McFadden, L., McDonald, E., Wells, S., DeNiro, M. (1994). Factors and processes governing the 14C content of carbonate in desert soils. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 125, 385–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Auf’mkolk, M., Amir, S.M., Kubota, K., Ingbar, S.H. (1985). The active principles of plant extracts with antithyrotropic activity: oxidation products of derivatives of 3,4 - dihydroxycinnamic acid. Endocrinology, 116, 1677–1686Google Scholar
  3. Baas, J. (1980). Ein bedeutsamer botanischer Fund der Gattung Echium Linne aus Kamid el-Loz. In: Hachmann, E. (ed) Bericht über die Ergebnisse in Kamid el-Loz in den Jahren 1968 bis 1970. Bonn, pp 111–115Google Scholar
  4. Berrier, J., Delmas, A.B., Bresson, L.M. (1987). Fonctionnement saisonnier et instantane d’un systeme d’alteration calcaire, approche micromorphologique. In: Fedoroff, N., Bresson, L.M., Courty, M.-A. (eds) Soil Micromorphology. Proceedings of the 7th International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology. Paris – July 1985. Association Française pour l’Etude du Sol. Schiffer, Paris, pp 309–314Google Scholar
  5. Bezerra, F.H., Vita-Finzi, C., Filho, F.P.L. (2000). The use of marine shells for radiocarbon dating of coastal deposits. Revista Brasileira de Geociencias, 30, 211–213Google Scholar
  6. Brinker, F. (1990). Inhibition of endocrine function by botanical agents—Boraginaceae and Labiatae. Journal of Naturopathic Medicine 1: Scholar
  7. Bronk Ramsey, C. (2001). Development of the Radiocarbon Program OxCal. Radiocarbon, 43, 355–363Google Scholar
  8. Chen, Y., Polach, H. (1984). Validity of 14C ages of carbonate in sediments. Radiocarbon, 28, 464–472Google Scholar
  9. Davis, P.H. (1965–1988). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands. Edinburgh University Press, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  10. Genz, H. (2002). Die frühbronzezeitliche Keramik von Hirbet ez-Zeraqon. Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins, 27Google Scholar
  11. Hillman, G.C. (1972). Plant remains. In: French, D.H., Excavations at Can Hasan III 1969–1970, 181–190. In: Higgs, E.S. (ed) Papers in Economic Prehistory. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 182–188Google Scholar
  12. Hillman, G.C., Hedges, R.E.M., Moore, A., Colledge, S., Pettitt, P. (2001). New evidence of Late glacial cereal cultivation at Abu Hureyra on the Euphrates. The Holocene, 11, 383–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jaretzky, R., Drimborn, H.I. (1937/38). Über das Vorkommen von Kieselsäure und Saponin bei den Boraginaceen. Deutsche Heilpflanze, 4, 94–98, 110–114Google Scholar
  14. Kamlah, J. (2000). Der Zeraqon—Survey 1989–1994. Mit Beiträgen zur Methodik und geschichtlichen Auswertung archäologischer Oberflächenuntersuchungen in Palästina. WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  15. Melamed, Y. (1996). Dry and charred grains from ‘Afula—a taphonomic approach. Atiqot, 30, 69–70Google Scholar
  16. Miller, N.F. (1991). The Near East. In: Zeist, W. van, Wasylikowa, K., Behre, K.-E. (eds) Progress in Old World palaeoethnobotany. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 133–160Google Scholar
  17. Mittmann, S. (1994). Hirbet ez-Zeraqon, eine Stadt der frühen Bronzezeit in Nordjordanien. Archäologie in Deutschland, 2, 10–15Google Scholar
  18. Molisch, H. (1913). Mikrochemie der Pflanze. Fischer, WienGoogle Scholar
  19. Moulins, D. de (2000a). Abu Hureyra 2: Plant remains from the Neolithic. In: Moore, A.M.T., Hillman, G.C., Legge, A.J. (eds) Village on the Euphrates: from foraging to farming at Abu Hureyra. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 399–416Google Scholar
  20. Moulins, D. de (2000b). Les restes de plantes carbonisées d’El Kowm 2. In: Stordeur, D., El Kowm 2: une île dans le désert. CNRS Editions, Paris, 281–299Google Scholar
  21. Pendall, E.G., Harden, J.W., Trumbore, S.E., Chadwick, O.A. (1994). Isotopic approach to soil carbonate dynamics and implications for paleoclimatic interpretations. Quaternary Research, 42, 60–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pustovoytov, K. (2002). Pedogenic carbonate cutans on clasts in soils as a record of history of grassland ecosystems. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 177, 199–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Riehl, S. (in press) Archaeobotany at the Early Bronze Age settlement of Hirbet ez-Zeraqon: a preliminary report. Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins. WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  24. Schleicher, M., Grootes, P.M., Nadeau, M-J., Schoon, A. (1998). The carbonate 14C background and its components at the Leibniz AMS facility. Radiocarbon, 40, 85–93Google Scholar
  25. Seibert, J. (1978). Fruchtanatomische Untersuchungen an Lithospermeae (Boraginaceae). J. Cramer, VaduzGoogle Scholar
  26. Svensson, H.G. (1925). Zur Embryologie der Hydrophyllaceen, Boraginaceen und Heliotropiaceen mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Endospermbildung. Dissertation, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  27. Wang, Y., Jahren, A.H., Amundson, R. (1997). Potential for 14C dating of biogenic carbonate in hackberry (Celtis) endocarps. Quaternary Research, 47, 337–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zeist, W. van, Buitenhuis, H. (1983). Palaeobotanical study of Neolithic Erbaba, Turkey. Anatolica, 10, 47–89Google Scholar
  29. Zeist, W. van (2001). Third to first millennium BC plant cultivation on the Khabur, North-Eastern Syria. Palaeohistoria, 41/42, 111–125Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konstantin E. Pustovoytov
    • 1
  • Simone Riehl
    • 2
  • Siegfried Mittmann
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für Bodenkunde und Standortlehre, Institute of Soil Science and Land EvaluationUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte, Ältere AbteilungLabor für ArchäobotanikTübingenGermany
  3. 3.Institut für Biblische Archäologie, Evangelisch-Theologisches SeminarUniversität TübingenTübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations