Subsistence strategies and vegetation development at Aceramic Neolithic Körtik Tepe, southeastern Anatolia, Turkey

Abstract

With the advent of sedentism, or living in permanent settlements, a new way of life began. The hunter and gatherers’ well established subsistence strategy of thousands of years slowly moved towards farming, beginning with herding and cultivation and leading to the domestication of animals and plants. The Aceramic Neolithic site of Körtik Tepe in southeastern Anatolia, Turkey, provides insight into a permanent settlement of hunters and gatherers at the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Early Holocene. Archaeobotanical investigations at the site including charcoal studies provide new information about the origins of agriculture in the northern Fertile Crescent. With the start of the Younger Dryas, there was an opening up of the oak woodland, which may have allowed widespread dense stands of annual, especially small-seeded grasses and riverine taxa to grow and thus provide staple foods for the inhabitants of Körtik Tepe. With the beginning of the Early Holocene, the oak woodland spread again and replaced these open grass-dominated stands, and the people of Körtik Tepe seem to have then favoured large-seeded grasses, nuts and legumes. Riverine taxa and a large diversity of edible plants were used for subsistence in both time periods. Increasing numbers of chaff remains and weeds in the Early Holocene samples suggest small-scale cultivation of the wild progenitors of cereals and pulses.

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Acknowledgements

The German team is very grateful to V. Özkaya and his team for their cooperation. Excavation, analysis of seed remains, isotopes and the chronological analysis were financed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) (BE 4218/2-2; AL 287/9-2), to which we offer our deepest thanks. K. Deckers’ research was possible thanks to a Margarethe von Wrangell habilitation fellowship funded by the European Social Fund in Baden-Württemberg.

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Correspondence to Corinna Rössner.

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Communicated by M. Tengberg.

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Rössner, C., Deckers, K., Benz, M. et al. Subsistence strategies and vegetation development at Aceramic Neolithic Körtik Tepe, southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. Veget Hist Archaeobot 27, 15–29 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-017-0641-z

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Keywords

  • Near East
  • Aceramic Neolithic
  • Subsistence strategy
  • Vegetation
  • Cultivation
  • Younger Dryas