The Agricultural Landscape of Tel Burna: Ecology and Economy of a Bronze Age/Iron Age Settlement in the Southern Levant

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Abstract

The Shephelah, known as the breadbasket of the southern Levant, is one of the more extensively investigated regions of the southern Levant in terms of archaeobotanical research. However, studies dealing with agriculture are scarce in comparison to the archaeobotanical data available. The analysis of the archaeobotanical assemblage in combination with the archaeological remains from Tel Burna will contribute to the investigation of the agriculture of the Shephelah. Several seasons of excavation revealed a cultic complex dating to the Late Bronze Age and an Iron Age II settlement with various agricultural installations such as silos and wine or olive presses. In this paper, we present the agricultural features in conjunction with the systematical archaeobotanical sampling, which enables us to reconstruct the types of crop plants cultivated at the site. Grass pea seeds dominate the assemblage collected from the Late Bronze Age complex, which may point to a connection to the Aegean. The Iron Age assemblage is distinguished by a significantly broad range of crop plants which were cultivated in vicinity of the tell. The archaeological Iron Age remains indicate that the processing of secondary products such as olive oil, wine, or textiles took place within the Iron Age settlement of Tel Burna. This first comprehensive overview describes the character of agricultural production in the Late Bronze Age to Iron Age environmental and geopolitical transformations.

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