Voices From the Field (2022-01-10)

Humidity and Society at ASOR

Gygaia Projects

Kaymakçı and the Marmara Lake basin were again well represented at the Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) in November 2021. This year our work was highlighted as part of the collaborative “Humidity and Society: 8,500 Years of Climate History in Western Anatolia” joint project of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI)-Istanbul and Koç University, which is generously funded by the DAI’s “Groundcheck” program. See below for the title slide and abstract.

An Examination of Environment and Agriculture in Neolithic to Byzantine Period Western Anatolia using δ13C Data from Seeds and Wood Charcoals

Benjamin Irvine, Ceren Çilingir, Christina Luke, Rana Özbal, Felix Pirson, and Chris Roosevelt

Abstract: This talk presents the preliminary results of the δ13C data from seeds and wood charcoals to examine arable agriculture and reconstruct environmental and climatic conditions in Neolithic to Byzantine period western Anatolia.  The data presented here is part of the joint DAI and ANAMED project, “Humidity and Society: 8,500 Years of Climate History in Western Anatolia.” The analysed samples come from Neolithic Barcın Höyük, Bronze Age Kaymakçı, and Roman to Byzantine period Pergamon (Kleopatra Hamamı). The dataset is the first of its kind, in terms of diachronic scale, for Anatolia. Furthermore, it will provide a significant contribution to quantifiable scientific approaches to Turkish archaeobotanical research, something which is currently underrepresented.

The results from the stable isotope analyses on the seeds demonstrate that there were differing approaches to crop and field management between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, particularly the effects of anthropogenic factors such as irrigation/field location choices. The δ13C data, in combination with 14C dates, for the wood charcoals have allowed for a diachronic examination of available humidity and growing conditions for trees, and thereby, an indication of environmental and climatic conditions. Whilst work continues on this aspect of the project, preliminary observations suggest that there was greater variability in humidity in the Neolithic and that the (Late) Bronze Age appears generally to be more humid than earlier and later periods. At an intra-site level some periods of lower humidity have been noted, with one particularly noticeable drier period at Kaymakçı at around 1700–1600 cal. BCE.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!