Farming and Trade in Amheida/Trimithis (Dakhla Oasis, Egypt): New Insights from Archaeobotanical Analysis

  • Valentina CaracutaEmail author
  • Girolamo Fiorentino
  • Paola Davoli
  • Roger Bagnall


This paper presents the results of the first archaeobotanical investigation carried out by the University of Salento archaeological team during the 2015 field season at the site of Amheida/ Trimithis in Dakhla Oasis, Egypt. The bulk of the recovered material consists of seeds and fruits from midden deposits that lay under the foundation of an upper class fourth century AD house and the adjoining school, and similar deposits beneath streets that flanked the house. Overall, almost 600 seeds were recovered. The archaeobotanical assemblage includes nine species of fruit trees. Among these species, three belong to the local, sub-arid, vegetation of the Dakhla Oasis, such as the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.), Nile acacia (Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile Willd. ex Delile) and Christ´s-thorn ( Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf.), while the rest are allochthonous species that could have been locally grown, or imported as food from other areas of the Mediterranean and the Far East. The olive tree (Olea europaea L.), which was introduced to Egypt from the Mediterranean areas of the Levant, is quite abundant at Amheida/ Trimithis , and its presence suggests that olives were an important source of food between the third-fourth century AD. As we know from the site of Umm Mawagir, in the nearby Kharga Oasis, olives were consumed in the oases already in the late Middle Kingdom (Cappers et al. 2013). Another species, which also comes from the Mediterranean area, is the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) Delile. Findings of carob seeds are recorded at Amheida/ Trimithis , as well as at the contemporaneous site of Ismant el-Kharab/Kellis, but nowhere else in the New Valley Governorate (Southwestern Egypt), suggesting that this species was introduced, at the earliest, during the Roman period. The presence of black myrobalan (Terminalia chebula Retz.), a species that is native to South Asia, might be indicative of a network of exchanges between Amheida\ Trimithis and localities on the Red Sea coast.


Archaeobotany Amheida/Trimithis Egypt Farming diet Midden Trade 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentina Caracuta
    • 1
    Email author
  • Girolamo Fiorentino
    • 1
  • Paola Davoli
    • 2
  • Roger Bagnall
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Archaeobotany and PalaeoecologyUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly
  2. 2.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly
  3. 3.Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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