Luke Cartwright

Irrigation of Cereals at Bronze Age Kültepe-Kaneš (Kayseri, Turkey): An analysis of carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) and grain weight

This study investigated the irrigation of cereal crops before, during, and after the foundaion of a large Assyrian trading centre at Kültepe (ancient Kaneš), Central Anatolia. The presence of irrigation was investigated using the carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) of charred archaeobotanical grains, which is a proxy for water availability during plant growth. The Δ13C and grain weight of barley (Hordeum vulgare) and naked wheat (Triticum aestivum/durum) grains dating from the Early Bronze Age (EBA), Middle Bronze Age (MBA), and Iron Age (IA) occupations at Kültepe were interpreted with aid of modern crop response, regional climate, and comparable archaeobotanical data from contemporary Kaman-Kalehöyük where irrigation is unlikely. Results show that cereal grain weight (i.e. grain yield) improved significantly at Kültepe in the MBA. Grain crops were very well-watered across the periods studied, with Δ13C values much greater than that of Kaman-Kalehöyük. This very high water availability is contrary to what would be expected based on palaeoclimate data, suggesting irrigation was in place by the EBA. This study provides the first archaeological evidence of irrigation in Bronze Age Central Anatolia, thus contributing to our understanding of Central Anatolian society in the Assyrian Colony Period. Reliable grain yield through intensive agriculture in a period of increased aridity likely influenced the role of Kültepe as the centre of the Assyrian trade empire during this period.

Charlie Le Moyne

Bad breath and poor dental hygiene: A direct method for tracing dietary breadth and plant use throughout the prehistory of Sub-Saharan Africa

As a primary source of carbohydrates, plants play a particularly important role in human history. Changes and variation in the use of plant resources reflect the adaptability of subsistence economies and strategies. However, the intricacies of plant use in Sub-Saharan African cuisines throughout pre-history remain an enigma, as the dynamic depositional environments of equatorial Africa bias archaeobotanical assemblages in sediments and residues. This talk will discuss the results of my honours research on plant use at the major East African coastal trading site of Unguja Ukuu (c. 600 – 1000 A.D.), and will contextualize this within my ongoing research using dental calculus as a direct proxy of ancient diet in Sub-Saharan Africa.

About the Presenters

Luke Cartwright

I completed honours in Archaeological Science at UQ at the end of 2017 where I looked at the irrigation of cereals in Bronze Age Central Anatolia using stable carbon isotopes. I have recently begun myPhD research  where I am still looking at Central Anatolia, but about 5000 years earlier when the transition towards a sedentary farming lifestyle seems to have been taking place. My project is titled "Re-evaluating forager-farmer plant use in Anatolia's Neolithic transition" and I will undertake starch and residue analysis of artefacts and dental calculus from Boncuklu and Pinarbasi in central Turkey to understand the role of ground seeds, USO's, etc. in the diet and economy of some of the earliest farming societies outside southwest Asia’s Fertile Crescent. Boncuklu is of great interest as it is thought to have been a direct precursor to world heritage site Catalhoyuk. A large part of this research will be focused towards developing the methodology of starch and residue analysis in semi-arid South-west Asia where such analyses are seldom used.

Charlie Le Moyne

Charlie is a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, and previously completed his undergraduate degree at the same institution. His research focuses on the analysis of plant microfossils to understand the role of plants in the subsistence strategies of Sub-Saharan Iron Age and Pastoral societies.


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.