Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 205–215 | Cite as

Archaeobotanical data and crop storage evidence from an early Bronze Age 2 burnt house at Arslantepe, Malatya, Turkey

  • Laura SadoriEmail author
  • Francesca Susanna
  • Carlo Persiani
Original Article


Excavations on the southwest area at Arslantepe, Malatya, Turkey, by far the largest tell on the Malatya plain from the 5th millennium to the Neo-Hittite age, revealed an important change in the settlement patterns during the two main levels of the VI C Period of the site (Early Bronze Age 2, 2750–2500 cal b.c.). The latter level corresponds to a village founded on neatly shaped terraces in a layout which lasted for centuries, well into the following Early Bronze Age 3. This continuity was not broken even by violent fires that at times destroyed some houses, producing a huge quantity of charred plant remains, which comprised fruits, seeds and wood charcoal. The archaeobotanical data so far obtained from the EB2 house A607, the richest one in macro-remains, on which efforts have been concentrated first, provides much data about the use of the surrounding land. Charcoal of Quercus (deciduous oaks) (85%) followed by Populus (poplar) (9%) are dominant among wood remains, while Hordeum (barley) (70%) is the dominant crop found, followed by Cicer (chickpea) (17%). The crop storage methods were investigated by mapping the positions of charred fruits and seeds both according to the grid system and in comparison to the layout of facilities (grinding stone, hearths, oven) and the distribution of pottery (jars, bowls, pots) in order to detect where the crops were kept and the ways in which they were stored, processed, and used. The house facilities and furniture suggest that the house was a multifunctional place, which included storage space, but which was limited to household needs. The new archaeobotanical investigation so far carried out on the burnt house A607 suggests some implications on the degree of agriculture, on crop storage and on food processing practises and also gives information on the natural landscape surrounding the site.


Archaeobotany Charred seeds and fruits storage Charcoals Eastern Anatolia Early Bronze Age 2. Arslantepe 



The authors wish to thank M. Frangipane, the Director of Arslantepe excavations, and M. Follieri for their advice and stimulus. Many thanks to F. Nocca for co-operation in charcoals identification, and to A. M. Conti and M. Giardini for their suggestions and helpful discussion.


  1. Alessio M, Allegri L, Azzi C, Bella F, Calderoni G, Cortesi C, Improta S, Petrone V (1983) 14C Dating of Arslantepe. Origini 12:575–580Google Scholar
  2. Atalay I (1994) Türkiye vejetasyon coğrafyası—Vegetation geography of Turkey. Ege Üniversitesi Basımevi Bornova, İzmirGoogle Scholar
  3. Belisario MV, Follieri M, Sadori L (1994) Nuovi dati archeobotanici sulla coltivazione di Vitis vinifera L. ad Arslantepe (Malatya, Turchia). In: Milano L (ed) Drinking in ancient societies. History and culture of drinks in the ancient Near East. History of the Ancient Near East/Studies 6:77–90Google Scholar
  4. Calderoni G, Caneva I, Cazzella A, Frangipane M, Petrone V (1994) Department of Earth Sciences and the University of Rome Radiocarbon Dates, III. Radiocarbon 36:143–152Google Scholar
  5. Conti AM, Persiani C (1993) When worlds collide. Cultural developments in Anatolia in the early Bronze Age. In: Frangipane M, Hauptmann H, Liverani M, Matthiae P, Mellink M (eds) Between the rivers and over the mountains. Studi in Memoria di Alba Palmieri. Università La Sapienza, Roma, pp 361–413Google Scholar
  6. Eastwood WJ, Roberts N, Lamb HF, Tibby JC (1999) Holocene environmental change in southwest Turkey: a palaeoecological record of lake and catchment-related changes. Quaternary Science Reviews 18:671–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Esin U (1972) Tepecik Excavations, 1970. Keban Project 1970 Activities:149–158Google Scholar
  8. Fahn A, Werker E, Baas P (1986) Wood anatomy and identification of trees and shrubs from Israel and adjacent regions. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, JerusalemGoogle Scholar
  9. Fairbairn A, Asouti E, Near J, Martinoli D (2002) Macro-botanical evidence for plant use at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. In: Jacomet S, Jones G, Charles M, Bittmann F (eds) Archaeology of Plants. Current Research in Archaeobotany. Proceedings of the 12th IWGP Symposium, Sheffield 2001. Veget Hist Archaeobot 11:41–54Google Scholar
  10. Follieri M, Coccolini G (1983) Palaeoethnobotanical study of the VI A and VI B periods at Arslantepe (Malatya-Turkey). Preliminary report. Origini 12:599–662Google Scholar
  11. Follieri M, Sadori L (2001) Crops storing at Arslantepe (Malatya, Turkey) during the Early Bronze Age. Abstract of 12th Symposium of the International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany, Sheffield, UK, 17–23 June 2001Google Scholar
  12. Frangipane M (1993) Local components in the development of centralized societies in Syro-Anatolian regions. In: Frangipane M, Hauptmann H, Liverani M, Matthiae P, Mellink M (eds) Between the rivers and over the mountains. Studi in Memoria di Alba Palmieri. Università La Sapienza, Roma, pp 133–161Google Scholar
  13. Frangipane M, Palmieri A (1983) Perspectives on protourbanization in Eastern Anatolia: Arslantepe (Malatya). An interim report on 1975–1983 campaigns. Origini 12:287–668Google Scholar
  14. Greguss P (1955) Identification of living gymnosperms on the basis of xylotomy. Akadémiai Kiadó, BudapestGoogle Scholar
  15. Greguss P (1959) Holzanatomie der europäischen Laubhölzer und Sträucher. Akadémiai Kiadó, BudapestGoogle Scholar
  16. Hald MM, Charles M (2004) Crop storage in the fourth millennium b.c. at tell Brak, Syria. Abstracts of the 13th symposium of the International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany. Girona, 16–22 May 2004Google Scholar
  17. Hanelt P, Institute of plant genetics and crop plant research (eds) (2001) Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, vol 2, 5Google Scholar
  18. Hauptmann H (1969,1970) Norşuntepe: Historische Geographie und Ergebnisse der Grabungen. Ist Mitt 19–20:21–78Google Scholar
  19. Hauptmann H (1982) Die Grabungen auf dem Norşuntepe, 1974. Keban Project 1973–1974 Activities:41–70Google Scholar
  20. Hopf M (1986) Archaeological evidence of the spread and use of some members of the Leguminosae family. In: Barigozzi C (ed) The origin and domestication of cultivated plants. Elsevier, Oxford, New York and Tokyo, pp 35–60Google Scholar
  21. Jacomet S (1987) Prähistorische Getreidefunde. Eine Anleitung zur Bestimmung prähistorischer Gersten- und Weizen-Funde, BaselGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones G, Wardle K, Halstead P, Wardle D (1986) Crop storage at Assiros. Scientific American 254:84–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Koşay HZ (1976) Keban Project Pulur Excavations 1968–1970, AnkaraGoogle Scholar
  24. Ladizinsky G (1975) A new Cicer from Turkey. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 34:201–202Google Scholar
  25. Marcolongo B, Palmieri AM (1983) Environment, water supply and cultural development at Arslantepe (Malatya, Turkey). Origini 12:619–628Google Scholar
  26. Miller N (1991) The Near East. In: Van Zeist W, Wasylikova K, Behre K-E (eds) Progress in Old World palaeoethnobotany. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 133–160Google Scholar
  27. Miller N (2004) Archaeobotanical Reports from Turkey and Related Items (
  28. Nesbitt M (1995) Plants and people in ancient Anatolia. Biblical Archaeologist 58:69–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nesbitt M, Samuel D (1996) Archaeobotany in Turkey: a review of current research. Orient-Express 3:91–96Google Scholar
  30. Persiani C (in press) Restless Settlers. Changing settlement patterns in the Early Bronze 2 at Arslantepe (Malatya, Turkey). In: 4th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Berlin, 29 March–3 April 2004Google Scholar
  31. Peters E (1979) Vorratshaltung in der anonymen Architektur der Altınova. Keban Project 1973 Activities:135–142Google Scholar
  32. Renfrew J (1973) Palaeoethnobotany, Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. Sadori L, Belisario MV, Follieri M (1990) Criteri per l'omogeneità di sottocampionamento in analisi archeobotaniche di macroresti vegetali. Giornale Botanico Italiano 124:180Google Scholar
  34. Sadori L, Susanna F (2004) Archaeobotanical data from a settlement of the early Bronze Age-2 at Arslantepe (Malatya, Turkey). Abstracts of the 13th symposium of the International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany. Girona, 16–22 May 2004Google Scholar
  35. Sadori L, Susanna F, Follieri M (2004) Collapsed wooden structure of a 3000 years BC temple of Arslantepe (Malatya, Turkey). Abstracts of the III International Meeting of Anthracology. Charcoals from the past. Cultural and Palaeoenvironmental implications. Lecce, Italy, 28 June–1 July 2004Google Scholar
  36. Schwartz GM, Curvers HH, Gerritsen FA Maccormack JA, Miller NF, Weber JA (2000) Excavation and survey in the Jabbul plain, western Syria: The Umm el-Marra Project 1996-1997. American Journal of Archaeology 104:419–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schoch WH, Pawlik B, Schweingruber FH (1988) Botanische Makroreste. Haupt, Bern StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  38. Schweingruber FH (1978) Mikroskopische Holzanatomie. Kommissionsverlag Zürcher, ZugGoogle Scholar
  39. Schweingruber FH (1990) Anatomie europäischer Hölzer, Anatomy of European woods. Haupt, Bern StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  40. Stummer A (1911) Zur Urgesichte der Rebe und des Weinbaues. Mittelungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien 41:283–296Google Scholar
  41. Van Loon M, (ed) (1978) Korucutepe, vol 2. North Holland, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  42. Van Zeist W (1972) Palaeobotanical results of the 1970 season at Çayönü, Turkey. Helinium 12:3–19Google Scholar
  43. Van Zeist W (1984) Lists of names of wild and cultivated cereals. Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture 1:8–15Google Scholar
  44. Van Zeist W (1991) Economic aspects. In: Van Zeist W, Wasylikova K, Behre K-E (eds) Progress in Old World Palaeoethnobotany. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 109–130Google Scholar
  45. Van Zeist W, Bakker-Heeres JAH (1975) Prehistoric and early historic plant husbandry in the Altinova Plain, southeastern Turkey. In: Van Loon MN (ed) Korucutepe, vol. 1. North Holland, Amsterdam, pp 225–257Google Scholar
  46. Van Zeist W, Bakker-Heeres JAH (1985) Archaeobotanical studies in the Levant, 4. Bronze age sites on the north Syrian Euphrates. Palaeohistoria 27:247–316Google Scholar
  47. Van Zeist W, Bottema S (1982) Vegetation history of the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East during the last 20,000 years. In: Bintliff J, Van Zeist W (eds) Palaeoclimates, palaeoenvironments and human communities in the eastern Mediterranean region in later prehistory. BAR International Series 133:277–321Google Scholar
  48. Van Zeist W, de Roller GJ (1995) Plant remains from Aşikli Höyük, a pre-pottery Neolithic site in central Anatolia. Veget Hist Archaeobot 4:179–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Van Zeist W, Woldring H (1978) A postglacial pollen diagram from lake Van in East Anatolia. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 26:249–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Willcox GW (1974) A history of deforestation as indicated by charcoal analysis of four sites in eastern Anatolia. Anatolian Studies 24:117–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zohary D, Hopf M (1993) Domestication of plants in the Old World; the origin and spread of cultivated plants in West Asia, Europe and the Nile Valley, 2nd edn. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  52. Zohary D, Spiegel-Roy P (1975) Beginnings of fruit growing in the Old World. Science 187:319–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Sadori
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francesca Susanna
    • 1
  • Carlo Persiani
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia VegetaleUniversità di Roma “La Sapienza”RomaItaly
  2. 2.Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali del Comune di RomaRomaItaly
  3. 3.Missione Archeologica Italiana nell'Anatolia Orientale, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”RomaItaly

Personalised recommendations