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Plant gathering and people-environment interactions at Epipalaeolithic Kharaneh IV, Jordan

Abstract

This paper presents the first archaeobotanical results on plant macroremains other than charcoal from the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic site of Kharaneh IV in the Azraq basin, one of the largest Epipalaeolithic sites in the southern Levant and one of the few with evidence for multiple phases of occupation. The analysis of the substantial archaeobotanical assemblage from the site provides new insights into the local environmental conditions and how these changed throughout occupation, potentially affecting the use of the site, and it further contributes to debates about hunter-gatherer lifeways during the earlier Epipalaeolithic. A variety of potential food plant resources was identified, including several starch-rich seeds and tissues, fruits and various other wild seeds and grains. Comparison of the Kharaneh IV archaeobotanical assemblage with those from other Epipalaeolithic sites in the southern Levant reveals a number of similarities and differences. These comparisons, and especially with the contemporary nearby site of Wadi Jilat 6, support the emerging picture of an ecological mosaic within the Epipalaeolithic Azraq basin, and a general pattern of local resource use across the wider region.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the project directors Lisa Maher and Danielle Macdonald for providing access to the samples and available field documentation, and for their comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Many thanks are due to the field crews of the 2009–2010 Kharaneh IV excavation seasons. We thank the Director General of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and Department Representatives Aref Daythem and Ahmad Lash for facilitating the fieldwork during which these samples were collected. Many thanks are also due to Elizabeth Stroud for her photos, details and discussions about flotation and field processing at Kharaneh IV. We are very grateful to our colleagues Sue Colledge, Ehud Weiss, Yoel Melamed, Mark Nesbitt, Glynis Jones and Amy Bogaard, who provided support, access to resources and crucial help with the challenging identification process of the archaeobotanical material. The University of Nottingham Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence funded the doctoral work of Leslie Bode. Matthew Jones acknowledges the support of the Future Food Beacon of Excellence, University of Nottingham. The Arts and Humanities Research Council of Britain funded fieldwork at Kharaneh IV from 2008 to 2010 and the University of Cambridge provided institutional support.

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Correspondence to Alexandra Livarda.

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Bode, L.J.K., Livarda, A. & Jones, M.D. Plant gathering and people-environment interactions at Epipalaeolithic Kharaneh IV, Jordan. Veget Hist Archaeobot 31, 85–96 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-021-00839-w

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Keywords

  • Epipalaeolithic
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Southern Levant
  • Archaeobotany
  • Plant resources
  • Local environment