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Posts Tagged ‘bronze age’

Not just metals, hierarchical societies and fortified settlements: a new food also influenced economic transformations in the Bronze Age around 3500 years ago. This is evidenced by frequent archaeological discoveries of remains of broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum L.), a cereal with small, roundish grains. A major study by the Collaborative Research Centre 1266 “Scales of Transformation – Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies” at Kiel University (CAU) was published yesterday (13 August) in the journal Scientific Reports. It shows how common millet got onto the menu in Bronze Age Europe. Intensive trade and communication networks facilitated the incredibly rapid spread of this new crop originating from the Far East.

“Wheat, maize and rice now dominate our cereal farming. Millet is regarded as a niche crop suitable mainly for birdseed,” explained Professor Wiebke Kirleis from CRC 1266. As this cereal is once more experiencing increasing attention as a gluten-free food, however, it makes the results of the study even more exciting, she added.

Millet was domesticated in north-east China in about 6000 BC and quickly became a staple crop. It is a drought-tolerant, fast-growing cereal that is rich in minerals and vitamins. With a growing time of just 60 to 90 days from sowing to harvest, it was grown by both farmers and pastoralists, and was consumed by both humans and domestic animals. Over thousands of years, pastoral groups spread millet westward from East Asia. The earliest millet in Central Asia comes from archaeological sites in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the Kashmir Valley, and is dated to about 2500 BC.

“In Europe, curiously, broomcorn millet has been found at many Neolithic sites, which date from between 6500 and 2000 BC, depending on the region,” said Kirleis. Is it possible that millet was domesticated in China at around the same time? Wheat, barley and our domestic animals were only introduced to Europe thousands of years after they were domesticated in the “Fertile Crescent” – a region extending from the Persian Gulf through northern Syria to Jordan. Was there a special relationship with China? Doubts about this hypothesis arose following the radiocarbon-dating (14C) of a few grains of millet in 2013. These tiny grains had infiltrated older archaeological layers through root channels and earthworm activity. When millet first appeared and was cultivated in Europe remained unknown.

A group of researchers at the Collaborative Research Centre “Scales of Transformation” (CRC 1266), led by Wiebke Kirleis, set out to answer this question. They researched not only the spread of millet cultivation in Europe, but also focused their attention on the prehistoric population’s acceptance of this exotic cereal and examined which agricultural and social phenomena were associated with this innovation.

As millet ripens within three months after sowing, it can be grown as a catch crop between the summer harvest and winter sowing of wheat or barley in central and southern Europe. Further north, it probably served as a reserve crop if late frost had destroyed spring-sown crops. Surplus grain from the extra harvest increased food security and supported a steadily growing population.

Working with almost thirty research institutions across Europe, the archaeobotanists Dragana Filipović and Marta Dal Corso from the team led by Wiebke Kirleis, together with John Meadows from the Leibniz Laboratory for Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research at Kiel University and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA) in Schleswig, radiocarbon-dated millet from 75 prehistoric sites (6th-1st century BC). The results show that millet cultivation did not begin in the Early Stone Age, but was first introduced around 1500 BC, and that the new crop spread incredibly rapidly across much of Central Europe 3500 years ago. “This indicates that there were extensive trade and communication networks during the Bronze Age. But the study also shows that millet was quickly and widely recognised as a versatile addition to the then emmer- and barley-dominated cuisine,” concluded Kirleis.

Millet evidently spread along established trade routes for bronze objects (including weapons), gold and amber. These transformation processes of food strategies and their social dimensions are a key issue for CRC 1266. Future research in CRC 1266 will examine what social dynamics were associated with the introduction of this new food in this distinct period of upheaval in European prehistory, as the highly productive and connected world of Bronze Age Europe was also a stage for conflict. Evidence of battles and numerous fortifications are testimony of this.

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On this day ten years ago…

 

via Cyprus Digs Reveal First Settlements May Be Older Than Thought

 

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Images of bog butter

The journal.ie

LONG BEFORE MODERN refrigeration Irish people discovered that storing butter in the bog keeps it fresher for longer. Much longer. A new study has now revealed that the ingenious practice dates back nearly 4,000 years, 1,500 years longer than previously thought.

The bog’s preservative powers are so strong that butter can still be edible after centuries in the ground. This is thanks to the cool, low oxygen and high-acid environment.

When the food finally deteriorates it takes on a hard, yellowish-white, wax-like texture and a cheesy smell. Chunks of these ancient foodstuffs are still often unearthed by turf cutters.

The new study has found that people were storing butter in Irish bogs in the Early Bronze age and there may have been a booming dairy industry at the time.

The practice lasted a staggering 3,500 years, from 1700 BC to, as recently as, the 17th century.

“The widespread occurrence of these enigmatic butter deposits fits with our increasing knowledge of the central importance of dairying in prehistoric northern Europe,” Professor Richard Evershed from the University of Bristol explained.

Four of the five Bronze Age bog butters studied by the researchers came from Offaly, they were found at Ballindown, Drinagh, Esker More and Knockdrin. The fifth was recovered from Clonava in Westmeath.

The earliest dated sample, from Knockdrin, dates from between 1745–1635 BC. It was found associated with bark, which was possibly a wrapping or container.

“Clearly, it is unlikely there was a single reason for the deposition of bog butter over four millennia,” Dr Jessica Smyth from the UCD School of Archaeology said.

“In certain periods they may have been votive deposits, while at other points in time it may have been more about storage and even protection of valuable resources.”

The National Museum of Ireland works with Bord Na Móna to record and retrieve bog butters that are found by chance.

The archaeology branch of the museum, which is on Dublin’s Kildare Street, has a collection of the butters on display to the public.

The findings of the new study are published in the journal Scientific Reports today.

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13-Jun-2018

University of British Columbia

eurekalert.org

 

Agricultural activity by humans more than 2,000 years ago had a more significant and lasting impact on the environment than previously thought. The finding– discovered by a team of international researchers led by the University of British Columbia– is reported in a new study published today in the journal Science Advances.

The researchers found that an increase in deforestation and agricultural activity during the Bronze Age in Ireland reached a tipping point that affected Earth’s nitrogen cycle– the process that keeps nitrogen, a critical element necessary for life, circulating between the atmosphere, land and oceans.

“Scientists are increasingly recognizing that humans have always impacted their ecosystems, but finding early evidence of significant and lasting changes is rare,” said Eric Guiry, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow in UBC’s department of anthropology. “By looking at when and how ancient societies began to change soil nutrients at a molecular level, we now have a deeper understanding of the turning point at which humans first began to cause environmental change.”

For the study, the researchers performed stable isotope analyses on 712 animal bones collected from at least 90 archaeological sites in Ireland. The researchers found significant changes in the nitrogen composition of soil nutrients and plants that made up the animals’ diet during the Bronze Age.

The researchers believe the changes were the result of an increase in the scale and intensity of deforestation, agriculture and pastoral farming.

While these results are specific to Ireland during the Bronze Age, Guiry said the findings have global implications.

“The effect of human activities on soil nitrogen composition may be traceable wherever humans have extensively modified landscapes for agriculture,” he explained. “Our findings have significant potential to serve as a model for future research.”

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The study, “Anthropogenic changes to the Holocene nitrogen cycle in Ireland,” was co-authored by researchers at the Institute of Technology Sligo, Trent University, the University of Oxford, Queen’s University Belfast, and Simon Fraser University.

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CHEMICAL ANALYSIS CONDUCTED ON ANCIENT POTTERY PROVES OLIVE OIL EXISTED IN ITALY 700 YEARS SOONER THAN WHAT’S PREVIOUSLY BEEN RECORDED.

Chemical analysis conducted on ancient pottery discovered from the Early Bronze Age proves Italians started using olive oil 700 years sooner than what’s previously been recorded.

Source: Italy’s oldest olive oil discovered in peculiar pot

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Ancient Greeks may have enjoyed beer too (file photo)

 

Original article:

greece-greekreporter.co

 

Greeks are known for loving wine but it seems their ancient ancestors were not only wine makers but also fond of brewing and drinking beer, a new study suggests.
Evidence found at two ancient settlement sites — Archontiko and Argissa — reveals beer was being brewed as far back as the Bronze Age.
The findings were reported in a recent article by Sultana-Maria Valamoti, Associate Professor of the Department of History and Archeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
“The new data, presented here for the first time, show strong indications that the inhabitants of prehistoric Greece, besides wine, also produced and consumed beer,” it states.
The finds — including remains of ground cereal grains — date back to a time between the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 2nd century BC.
In the case of Archontiko, along with rich cereal residues, a concentration of germinated cereal grains, ground cereal masses and fragments of milled cereals were found inside the remains of two houses.
Their condition is put down to malting and charring, claim researchers.
The practice of brewing could have reached the Aegean region and northern Greece through contacts with the eastern Mediterranean where it was widespread, it is also suggested.

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Original article:

Popular archaeology

 

 

Chemical analysis on these storage jars mark the earliest discovery of wine residue in the entire prehistory of the Italian peninsula. Credit: Dr. Davide Tanasi, University of South Florid

 

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA (USF HEALTH)—Chemical analysis conducted on ancient pottery could dramatically predate the commencement of winemaking in Italy. A large storage jar from the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BC) tests positive for wine.
This finding published in Microchemical Journal is significant as it’s the earliest discovery of wine residue in the entire prehistory of the Italian peninsula. Traditionally, it’s been believed wine growing and wine production developed in Italy in the Middle Bronze Age (1300-1100 B.C.) as attested just by the retrieval of seeds, providing a new perspective on the economy of that ancient society

Lead author Davide Tanasi, PhD, University of South Florida in Tampa conducted chemical analysis of residue on unglazed pottery found at the Copper Age site of Monte Kronio in Agrigento, located off the southwest coast of Sicily. He and his team determined the residue contains tartaric acid and its sodium salt, which occur naturally in grapes and in the winemaking process.
It’s very rare to determine the composition of such residue as it requires the ancient pottery to be excavated intact. The study’s authors are now trying to determine whether the wine was red or white.
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 Turkey's western province of Balıkesir, (AA Photo)


Turkey’s western province of Balıkesir, (AA Photo)

 

AA photo

AA photo

Original Article:

dailysabah.com

 

Turkish archeologists in Dascylium ancient city in Turkey’s western province of Balıkesir have discovered a 2,600 year-old kitchen which belonged to the ancient Kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia.

During the excavations, kitchenware including containers, mortars (made up of basalt stone) and some fish bones and seeds were discovered in the area where the age-old kitchen was discovered.

The head of the excavation team Kaan İren, who is a lecturer in the Department of Archeology in Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University in Turkey, spoke to an Anadolu Agency correspondent and said that his team had been digging in three different points in the area.

İren explained that “the founding belong to the Bronze Age, we came across some human traces in the area.”

“It was discovered that our findings including architectural structures, tablets, cult stuff and stoneware belong to the Kingdom of Lydia and Phrygians and date back to eight century BC,” he said.

Six and a half-meter-long walls which were used to strengthen burial mound were also discovered during the excavation. İren explained that the rock tombs had been discovered in the second digging, and that they may be the first source to provide knowledge about rock tombs in ancient history.

“In another point in the area, we found two kitchens which date back the 600 and 540 BC. We found one these kitchens on the top of the other.”

“Below one was collapsed due to fire then the second one was built on it but this one also collapsed due to another fire.” İren said.

This is the first time a fully-equipped kitchen belonging to the Kingdom of Lydia has been discovered in Anatolia.

 

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Jars. Credit: Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Klein

Jars.
Credit: Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Klein

Original Article:

science daily

Source:
University of Haifa

For the first time in excavations of ancient Near Eastern sites, a winery has been discovered within a Canaanite palace. The winery produced high-quality wine that helped the Canaanite ruling family to impress their visitors — heads of important families, out-of-town guests, and envoys from neighboring states. “All the residents of the Canaanite city could produce simple wine from their own vineyards. But just before it was served, the wine we found was enriched with oil from the cedars of Lebanon, tree resin from Western Anatolia, and other flavorings, such as resin from the terebinth tree and honey. That kind of wine could only be found in a palace,” says Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau of the Maritime Civilizations Department at the University of Haifa, one of the directors of the excavation. The full findings of the 2015 excavation season was presented at the conference “Excavations and Studies in Northern Israel,” which took place at the University of Haifa, and in May 16 at the Oriental Institute in Chicago.

The excavations at the Canaanite palace at tel Kabri, which was established around 3,850 years ago during the Middle Bronze Age (around 1950-1550 BCE), are continuing to yield surprises and to provide evidence of a connection between wine, banquets, and power in the Canaanite cities. Two years ago, around 40 almost-complete large jars were found in one of the rooms, and chemical analysis proved that they were filled with wine with special flavorings, such as terebinth resin, cedar oil, honey, and other plant extracts. “This was already a huge quantity of jars to find in a palace from the Bronze Age, and we were really surprised to find such a treasure,” says Prof. Yasur-Landau, who is directing the excavation together with Prof. Eric Cline of George Washington University, and Prof. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University.

In this early excavation the researchers already found openings leading into additional rooms. They devoted 2014 to analyzing the findings from the excavation, particularly the chemical analysis of the wine residues. During the 2015 excavation season, conducted in the summer, the researchers returned to the ancient rooms, not knowing what awaited them.

The northern opening led to a passage to another building. Both sides of the passage were lined with “closets” containing additional jars. The southern opening led to a room that was also full of jars buried under the collapsed walls and roof. This was clearly an additional storeroom. “We would have happily called it a day with this discovery, but then we found that this storeroom also had an opening at its southern end leading to a third room that was also full of shattered jars. And then we found a fourth storeroom” relates Prof. Yasur-Landau.

But the surprises kept on coming. As in the previous seasons, each of the new jars was sampled in order to examine its contents. The initial results showed that while all the jars in the first storeroom were filled with wine, in the other storerooms some of the jars contained wine, others appear to have been rinsed clean, while others still contained only resin, without wine. “It seems that some of the new storerooms were used for mixing wines with various flavorings and for storing empty jars for filling with the mixed wine. We are starting to think that the palace did not just have storerooms for finished produce, but also had a winery where wine was prepared for consumption.” Prof. Yasur-Landau added that this is the first time that a winery has been found in a palace from the Middle Bronze Age.

He adds that the new findings, together with the evidence from previous years of select parts of sheep and goats, have strengthened our understanding of the way rulers used splendid banquets to strengthen their control. “In this period it was not normal practice to mix wine beforehand. Accordingly, in order to provide guests with high-quality wines, the palace itself must have had a winery where they made prestigious wine and served it immediately to guests. These splendid banquets, which in addition to wine also included choice joints of sheep and goat, were the way rulers stayed in touch with their ‘electorate’ at the time — not only the heads of important extended families, but also guests from other cities and foreign envoys.” On the basis of ancient Ugaritic documents, the value of the wine in the storeroom can be estimated at a minimum of 1,900 silver shekels — an enormous sum that would have been sufficient, for example, to purchase three merchant ships. By way of comparison, an ordinary laborer in the same period would have to work for 150 years to earn this sum.

 

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