Botanical Aspects of Environment and Economy at Gordion, Turkey
Publication Year: 2010
The archaeological site of Gordion is most famous as the home of the Phrygian king Midas and as the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot on his way to conquer Asia. Located in central Anatolia (present-day Turkey) near the confluence of the Porsuk and Sakarya rivers, Gordion also lies on historic trade routes between east and west as well as north to the Black Sea. Favorably situated for long-distance trade, Gordion's setting is marginal for agricultural cultivation but well suited to pastoral production. It is therefore not surprising that with the exception of a single Chalcolithic site, the earliest settlements in the region are fairly late—they date to the Early Bronze Age (late 3rd millennium B.C.). The earliest known levels of Gordion, too, date to the Early Bronze Age, and occupation of at least some part of the site was nearly continuous through at least Roman times (second half of the 1st century B.C.).
This work is a contribution to both the archaeobotany of west Asia and the archaeology of the site of Gordion. The book's major concern is understanding long-term changes in the environment and in land use. An important finding, with implications for modern land management, is that the most sustainable use of this landscape involves mixed farming of dry-farmed cereals, summer-irrigated garden crops, and animal husbandry. The large number of samples from the 1988-89 seasons analyzed here make this a rich source for understanding other materials from the Gordion excavations and for comparison with other sites in west Asia.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
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List of Tables
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I first visited Gordion as a tourist in 1983, little expecting I would return five years later to participate in the renewed excavations led by Mary Voigt under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. The Penn Museum–sponsored excavations had been suspended after the 1974 death of Professor Rodney S. Young, but scholars returned every summer for study seasons. In the summer of 1987, a small team led...
1. Archaeological Background
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The archaeological site of Gordion is most famous as the home of the Phrygian king Midas and as the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot on his way to conquer Asia. Located in central Anatolia near the confluence of the Porsuk and Sakarya rivers, Gordion also lies on historic trade routes between east and west, as well as north to the...
2. Environment, Vegetation, and Land Use
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Preliminary archaeobotanical work (Miller 1999), geomorphological studies (Marsh 2005), archaeological survey (Kealhofer 2005), and ethnoarchaeological studies (Gürsan-Salzmann 2005) all show that the 20th-century landscape of the Sakarya valley is quite different from that of 3000, 300, or even 30 years ago. Even so, the present-day climate and vegetation...
3. Field to Laboratory: Collection and Processing of Wood Charcoal and Flotation Samples
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Two basic types of deposits were encountered in the 1988/1989 seasons—burnt buildings and ordinary occupation debris. Because the former is likely to include a substantial amount of construction debris and even some food stores, and the latter is likely to include a substantial amount of spent fuel, there is no reason to sample and analyze them in the same way...
4. Analysis of the Wood Charcoal Sample
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The stratigraphic sounding undertaken in 1988 and 1989 established a sequence of archaeological phases, and the excavations greatly expanded the amount and variety of plant materials available for study. Excavators were asked to collect all chunks of charcoal seen in the course of excavation; this goal was not reached. The three burnt buildings contained too much charcoal from construction debris,...
5. Analysis of the Flotation Samples
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During the 1988 and 1989 excavations seasons, over 600 flotation samples were taken from about 230 stratigraphically distinct deposits (Table 5.1). A small proportion of these were mixed in antiquity or were not as well excavated as they might have been. In choosing samples to analyze, I tried to get as full a time range as possible...
6. Interpretation—Summary and Conclusions
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There are a number of questions one can ask of macroremains from an archaeological site. At the most basic level, one can record the plants growing nearby that were used for food, fuel, fodder, and construction in different time periods. Archaeobotanical data also speak to land-use practices and consequent long-term human impact on the vegetation...
Summary of Results
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Analysis of the Gordion archaeobotanical assemblage remains provisional. The flotation samples are unevenly distributed over the periods represented in the 1988 and 1989 deep soundings, and the diversity of the seed assemblage makes generalizations difficult. In earlier chapters I have provided alternative ways to calculate the data, partly to provide comparability...
Appendix A. Flotation Samples: Laboratory Protocol for Gordion
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Appendix B. Wood Charcoal Identification Criteria
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Appendix C. Vegetation Survey
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Appendix D. Wild and Weedy Taxa: Seed Identification and Ecological Information
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Appendix E. Charcoal Samples
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Appendix F. Flotation Samples
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2010