Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 467–479 | Cite as

Wild plant seed storage at Neolithic Çatalhöyük East, Turkey

  • Andrew FairbairnEmail author
  • Danièle Martinoli
  • Ann Butler
  • Gordon Hillman
Original Article


Full analysis of eight seed samples collected in the 1960's excavations at Neolithic Çatalhöyük East, Turkey, is presented. Detailed investigation of the composition and context of the samples suggests that the Neolithic population collected, processed and stored seeds from Capsella sp. and Descurainia sp. (wild crucifers) for food use. In addition seeds of Vicia/Lathyrus sp. (wild vetch), Helianthemum spp. and Taeniatherum caput-medusae mixed with Eremopyrum type (grasses) were also found, some of which may have been used for food or other purposes. The analysis demonstrates that wild seed exploitation was a regular part of subsistence practice alongside the economic staple of crop production, and again demonstrates how diverse plant use practices were at the site.


Archaeobotany Neolithic Çatal Hüyük Storage Wild plants 



The authors thank James Mellaart for providing the seed archive for analysis. We also gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Inc. and the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, without which this research would have been impossible. Roger Heady, Sally Stowe and Frank Brink of the Electron Microscopy Unit, Australian National University, Canberra provided essential technical support and advice. Figs. 1 and 2 were reproduced with the permission of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK. Thanks to the two referees whose comments greatly improved the presentation and strength of this paper. Mark Nesbitt provided some useful advice and references.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Fairbairn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Danièle Martinoli
    • 2
  • Ann Butler
    • 3
  • Gordon Hillman
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social ScienceUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Prehistory and Archaeological Science IPASBasel UniversityBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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