Developments in Subsistence Practices from the Early Bronze Age through the Iron Age in the Southern Levant

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Dokumentart: Dissertation
Date: 2021-08-13
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Geographie, Geoökologie, Geowissenschaft
Advisor: Starkovich, Britt (PD Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2021-06-16
DDC Classifikation: 930 - History of ancient world to ca. 499
Keywords: Archäozoologie , Bronzezeit , Eisenzeit , Landwirtschaft , Levante , Archäobotanik , Subsistenz
Other Keywords:
Zooarchaeology, Archaeobotany, Levant, Iron Age, Bronze Age, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Subsistence
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The Bronze (3,600 BCE – 1,200 BCE) and Iron (1,200 – 586 BCE) Ages in the southern Levant witnessed major social, political, and cultural changes. These include the first development of complex urban-based settlements, and the genesis of new cultural identities. Such changes are deeply entangled with, and often driven by, developments in agriculture. Although many pub- lished botanical and faunal reports are available for sites dating to this period, there is a shortage of syntheses searching for general trends in subsistence developments, and to what extent such trends are related to cultural and/or environmental factors. Moreover, botanical and faunal re- mains are usually analysed independently from each other, limiting our understanding of agri- cultural practices and subsistence in past societies. This separation of animal husbandry and crop cultivation in archaeological research is an artefact of methodological differences between disciplines, which needs to be overcome to gain a more holistic understanding of how economic developments drove, and were driven by, major socio-political and environmental change. I investigate the development of subsistence practices in the southern Levant from the Bronze through the Iron Age in three steps. First, I analyse the faunal material from two sites, Tell Lachish and Tell el-Burak, using traditional zooarchaeological methods to understand diet and animal husbandry strategies on a regional scale. Second, I establish a reference database con- sisting of the abundance data of published faunal reports. Third, I use correspondence analysis to investigate trends in animal-based subsistence strategies, and to integrate faunal and botani- cal data for obtaining a holistic view of subsistence and agriculture. My results show changes in diet through time in the southern Levant, caused by cultural and environmental factors. There is a clear difference between the diet of people inhabiting sites dating to the Early and Middle Bronze age, and those dating to the Late Bronze and Iron Age. The former are associated with high numbers of pigs, wild faunal taxa, and emmer wheat. The latter are characterised by the appearance of zebu, camelids, and an increasing focus on free- threshing wheats. I reveal differences between the diet of people at sites of high and lower mean annual precipitation zones, and between those of sites located at lower and higher elevations. My dissertation shows the value of site-specific analysis to reconstruct local subsistence pat- terns, the merit of using metadata to reconstruct trends in diet through time and space, and the benefits and potential of an integrative analysis to obtain a holistic understanding of subsistence developments of past societies.

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