Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 621–634 | Cite as

Garden variety seeds? Botanical remains from the Petra Garden and Pool Complex

Original Article


Archaeobotanical samples recovered during the 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2011 excavation seasons at the Petra Garden and Pool Complex (PGPC) in Jordan examined plants that were preserved during different phases of use of the site. The analysis of these remains attempts to determine what plants would have been grown in the garden in antiquity. Results indicated that the material recovered likely represented plants that had been preserved elsewhere in the area and then deposited in the garden to act as fertilizer. The remains were generally charred and were probably derived from fuel and/or waste deposits as it does not appear that the garden was catastrophically burned. Although it is difficult to ascertain garden variety plants under these preservation conditions, an analysis of the archaeobotanical data from the PGPC addresses the questions of what and how plants functioned in the local and regional economy, and how the role of the garden changed through time, in addition to providing insight into the general environmental or ecological conditions present in southern Jordan from the Late Hellenistic through Late Byzantine/Post-Classical periods. Although ornamental species represent a small fraction of materials collected, the presence of these taxa may indicate their occurrence in the garden. Even if garden plants are not readily identifiable, this study aids in addressing the larger issues of trade, economy and environment of this ancient city, as well as the feasibility of identifying garden plants in antiquity.


Archaeobotany Garden Nabataean Roman Petra Jordan 



The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DOA) and its former Director, Fawwaz al-Kharaysheh, the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) staff and its Director, Barbara Porter, and the staff of the Petra Archaeological Park (PAP). Funding for the field seasons referenced in this paper came from the National Science Foundation (No. 0317706), Penn State Behrend Global Funds, Cornell University’s Midas-Croesus Fund and Hirsch Fund for Archaeology, a University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid, and the Macauley Fund. Further institutional support was provided by Penn State Erie-The Behrend College, The College at Brockport-SUNY, and The University of Minnesota-Morris. Many thanks are also due to the dedicated field staff, in particular Kathryn L. Gleason and James G. Schryver, and field school students whose hard work and talents produced the material upon which this research is based. Thanks to Shauna Strnad, Sandor Vegh, Kaleigh Smith and Madalyn Padalino for their help in the lab. The authors gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. Special gratitude is owed to the Bedoul of Umm Sayhoun, especially the family of Dakhilallah Qoblan, for their valued contributions to the project and warm hospitality.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 79 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The College at BrockportState University of New YorkBrockportUSA
  2. 2.Penn State ErieThe Behrend CollegeErieUSA

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