Locating cultivation in the landscape

Identifying where crops were grown is crucial for understanding the ecological and social context of farming. Particularly when integrated with evidence for crop husbandry practices, such information can deliver crucial insights into, for example, land tenure and redistribution systems.

The archaeological contexts under investigation in this project range from the large-scale crop stores preserved in underground silos of the 16th century BC at the Hittite capital of Hattuša, central Anatolia, through to smaller scale storage rooms at Late Bronze Age Assiros Toumba, northern Greece. Insight into the source of stored surpluses can reveal how early urban centres were sustained, whether by small-scale surpluses from regional subsistence production or from extensive agricultural production close to the site.

The strontium isotope ratios (87/86Sr) of plants reflect the underlying geology of the soil. Strontium isotope analysis of archaeobotanical cereal grains and pulses therefore has the potential to identify (or rather, exclude) potential cultivation zones and to refine understanding of the organization of land use and production in contrasting social and ecological contexts.