Wild plant seed storage at Neolithic Çatalhöyük East, Turkey

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Table 1
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Asouti E, Fairbairn A (2002) Subsistence economy in Central Anatolia during the Neolithic – The archaeobotanical evidence. In: Thissen L, Gérard F (eds) The Neolithic of Central Anatolia: Proceedings of the International CANeW Round Table, Istanbul 23–24 November 2001. Ege Yayınları, Istanbul, pp 181–192

    Google Scholar 

  2. Balter M (1998) Why settle down? The mystery of communities. Science 282:1442–1445

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Berggren G (1969) Atlas of seeds and small fruits of Northwest European plant species, with morphological descriptions. Part 2. Cyperaceae. Swedish Natural Science Research Council, Stockholm

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bogaard A, Charles M, Ergun M, Ng K, Polcyn M, Stone N (2005) Macrobotanical remains. Çatal News 12. http://www.catalhoyuk.com/newsletters/12/nl12_11.html. Cambridge: Çatalhöyük Research Project

  5. Cessford C (2001) A new dating sequence for Çatalhöyük. Antiquity 75:717–725

    Google Scholar 

  6. Davis PH (ed) (1965–2000) Flora of Turkey and the east Aegean islands. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  7. Ertuğ-Yaraş F (1997) An ethnoarchaeological study of subsistence and plant gathering in Central Anatolia. Unpublished PhD thesis, Washington University, St. Louis

  8. Fairbairn A (2005) A history of agriculture at Çatalhöyük East, Turkey. World Archaeol 37:197–210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Fairbairn AS, Asouti E, Near J, Martinoli D (2002) Macro-botanical evidence for plant use at Neolithic Çatalhöyük south-central Anatolia, Turkey. Veget Hist Archaeobot 11:41–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Fairbairn AS, Near J, Martinoli D (2005) Macrobotanical investigations of the North, South and KOPAL areas at Çatalhöyük East. In: Hodder I (ed) Inhabiting Çatalhöyük: reports from the 1995–1999 seasons. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research/British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, Cambridge/Ankara, pp 137–201

    Google Scholar 

  11. Fairbairn AS, Martinoli D, Butler A, Hillman G (forthcoming) Archaeobotany at Neolithic Çatalhöyük East: The Mellaart Archive. British Archaeological Reports International Series, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  12. French DH, Hillman GC, Legge A (1972) Excavations at Can Hassan III 1969–1970. In Higgs ES (ed) Papers in economic prehistory. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 180–190

    Google Scholar 

  13. Geleta M, Asfaw Z, Bekele E, Teshome A (2002) Edible oil crops and their integration in North Shewa and South Welo, central highlands of Ethiopia: An ethnobotanical perspective. Hereditas 137:29–40

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hauptmann H (1999) The Urfa Region. In: Özdoğan M, Başgelen N (eds) Neolithic in Turkey. Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları, Istanbul, pp 65–86

    Google Scholar 

  15. Helbæk H (1963) Textiles from Çatal Hüyük. Archaeology 16:39–46

    Google Scholar 

  16. Helbæk H (1964) First impressions of the Çatal Hüyük plant husbandry. Anatolian Studies 14:121–123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Helbæk H (1970) The Plant husbandry of Hacılar. In: Mellaart J (ed) Excavations at Hacılar, vol I. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp 189–244

    Google Scholar 

  18. Hillman GC (1984) Interpretation of archaeological plant remains: application of ethnographic models from Turkey. In: Casparie W, van Zeist W (eds) Plants and ancient man. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 1–41

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hodder I (ed) (1996) On the surface: Çatalhöyük 1993–95. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research/British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, Cambridge/Ankara

    Google Scholar 

  20. Jones G (1984) Interpretation of archaeological plant remains: ethnographic models from Greece. In: Casparie W, van Zeist W (eds) Plants and ancient man. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 43–61

    Google Scholar 

  21. Kislev ME, Nadel D, Carmi J (1992) Epipaleolithic (19000) Cereal and fruit diet at Ohalo II, Sea of Galilee, Israel. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 73:161–166

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Kupicha FK (1976) The infrageneric structure of Vicia. Notes from the Royal Botanic Gardens. Edinburgh 34:287–326

    Google Scholar 

  23. Maier U (2001) Archäobotanische Untersuchungen in der Neolithischen Ufersiedlung Hornstaad-Hörnle IA am Bodensee. In: Maier U, Vogt R (eds) Siedlungsarchäologie im Alpenvorland VI. Botanische und pedologische Untersuchungen zur Ufersiedlung Hornstaad-Hörnle IA. Forschungen und Berichte zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Baden-Württemberg 74. Theiss, Stuttgart, pp 9–384

  24. Martin AC (1946) The comparative internal morphology of seeds. Am Midl Nat 36:513–660

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Martinoli D, Jacomet S (2004) Identifying endocarp remains and exploring their use at Epipalaeolithic Öküzini in southwest Anatolia, Turkey. Veget Hist Archaeobot 13:45–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Mellaart J (1962) Excavations at Çatal Hüyük, first preliminary report, 1961. Anatolian Studies 12:41–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Mellaart J (1963) Excavations at Çatal Hüyük, second preliminary report, 1962. Anatolian Studies 13:43–103

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Mellaart J (1964) Excavations at Çatal Hüyük, third preliminary report, 1963. Anatolian Studies 14:39–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Mellaart J (1966) Excavations at Çatal Hüyük, fourth preliminary report, 1965. Anatolian Studies 16:15–191

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Mellaart J (1967) Çatal Hüyük: A Neolithic town in Anatolia. Thames and Hudson, London

    Google Scholar 

  31. Moore AMT, Hillman GC, Legge AJ (2000) Village on the Euphrates. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 327–399

    Google Scholar 

  32. Post GE (1896) Flora of Syria, Palestine and Sinai. Volume of Addenda. The American Press, Beirut

    Google Scholar 

  33. Rosenberg M, Nesbitt RMA, Redding RW, Strasser TF (1995) Hallan Çemi Tepesi: Some preliminary observations concerning early Neolithic subsistence behaviors in eastern Anatolia. Anatolica 21:1–12

    Google Scholar 

  34. Russell N, Martin L (2005) The Çatalhöyük mammal remains. In: Hodder I (ed) Inhabiting Çatalhöyük: reports from the 1995–1999 seasons. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research/British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, Cambridge/Ankara, pp 33–98

    Google Scholar 

  35. Russell N, McGowan KJ (2005) Çatalhöyük bird bones. In Hodder I (ed) Inhabiting Çatalhöyük: reports from the 1995–1999 seasons. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research/British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, Cambridge/Ankara, pp 99–110

    Google Scholar 

  36. Savard M, Nesbitt M, Gale R (2003) Archaeobotanical evidence for early Neolithic diet and subsistence at M'lefaat (Iraq). Paléorient 29:93–106

    Google Scholar 

  37. Schlichtherle H (1981) Cruciferen als Nutzpflanzen in neolithischen Ufersiedlungen Südwestdeutschlands und der Schweiz. Zeitschrift für Archäologie 15:113–124

    Google Scholar 

  38. Sezik E, Yeşilada E, Honda G, Takaishi Y, Takeda Y, Tanaka T (2001) Traditional medicine in Turkey X. Folk medicine in Central Anatolia. J Ethnopharmacol 75:95–115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Stokes P, Rowley-Conwy P (2002) Iron Age cultigen? Experimental return rates for fat hen (Chenopodium album L.). Environ Archaeol 7:95–99

    Google Scholar 

  40. Tekle-Hainamot R, Abegaz B, Wuhib E, Kassib A, Kidane Y, Kebbede N, Alemu T, Spencer P (1995) Nutritional and neuro-toxicological surveys of Lathyrus sativus consumption in Northern Ethiopia. In: Yusuf HMK, Lambein F (eds) Lathyrus sativus and human lathyrism: progress and prospects. University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh, pp 41–45

    Google Scholar 

  41. Townsend CC, Guest E (1980) Flora of Iraq, vol 4. Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Baghdad

    Google Scholar 

  42. Willcox G (1996) Evidence for plant exploitation and vegetation history from three Early Neolithic pre-pottery sites on the Euphrates (Syria). Veget Hist Archaeobot 5:143–152

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Willcox G (2002) Charred plant remains from a 10th millennium b.p. kitchen at Jerf el Ahmar (Syria). Veget Hist Archaeobot 11:55–60

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Yazıcıoğlu T, Karaali A, Gökçen J (1978) Cephalaria syriaca seed oil. J Am Oil Chem Soc April 1978:412–415

  45. Zeist W van, Bakker-Heeres JAH (1984) Archaeobotanical studies in the Levant, 2. Neolithic and Halaf levels at Ras Shamra. Palaeohistoria 26:151–170

    Google Scholar 

  46. Zeist W van, Bakker-Heeres JAH (1985) Archaeobotanical studies in the Levant, 1. Neolithic sites in the Damascus Basin: Aswad, Ghoraife, Ramad. Palaeohistoria 24:165–256

    Google Scholar 

  47. Zeist W van, de Roller GJ (1991) The plant husbandry of aceramic Çayönü, SE Turkey. Palaeohistoria 33/34:65–96

    Google Scholar 

  48. Zeist W van, de Roller GJ (1995) Plant remains from Aşıklı Höyük, a pre-pottery Neolithic site in central Anatolia. Veget Hist Archaeobot 4:79–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Zohary D, Hopf M (2000) Domestication of plants in the Old World. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  50. Zohary M (1973) Geobotanical foundations of the Middle East. Fischer, Stuttgart

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew Fairbairn.

Additional information

Communicated by S. Jacomet

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Fairbairn, A., Martinoli, D., Butler, A. et al. Wild plant seed storage at Neolithic Çatalhöyük East, Turkey. Veget Hist Archaeobot 16, 467–479 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-006-0069-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Archaeobotany
  • Neolithic
  • Çatal Hüyük
  • Storage
  • Wild plants