The role of plants in the economy of Tell Arbid, north-east Syria, in the Post-Akkadian Period and Middle Bronze Age

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Archaeological fieldwork carried out at the Tell Arbid site in north-eastern Syria exposed settlement remains dating from the early 3rd millennium BC to the mid 2nd millennium BC. Recent excavations in Sector P, on the eastern slope of the site, revealed the existence of a significant occupation of the Post-Akkadian/ Early Jazirah V period and of levels dated to the Early and Classic Khabur Ware/Old Jazirah/Middle Bronze Age I-II periods. Cereal remains were dominated by grains and ear fragments of hulled two-rowed barley Hordeum distichon. Less numerous were wheats represented by emmer Triticum dicoccon, einkorn T. monococcum, and macaroni wheat T. durum. The presence of bread wheat T. aestivum and six-rowed barley Hordeum vulgare could not be excluded. The two periods contained similar sets of cereals, but in the Post-Akkadian Period the percentage of hulled wheat remains was higher, while in the Middle Bronze Age (particularly in its younger phase) naked wheat slightly exceeded hulled wheats. Legumes were represented by only very few seeds of lentil Lens culinaris and bitter vetch Vicia ervilia. Diaspores of wild plants were very abundant, particularly those from the families of grasses and legumes. The considerable number of ear and culm fragments probably belonging to cereals as well as numerous seeds/fruits of wild plants suggests that the plant remains originated from fodder or animal dung or belonged to threshing waste. The presence of grass stems with nodes indicated that cereals were reaped low on the straw; occasional use of uprooting was suggested by the occurrence of basal culm fragments with traces of rootlets.

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