|Me looking rather seed-crazed in the |
Archaeobotany lab at Bar Ilan University
Thanks to a NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility grant, I am using a combination of archaeobotanical and stable carbon isotope (δ13C) analysis of charred (carbonized) seed remains from Kharaneh IV (a ca. 20,000 year old archaeological site in the Azraq Basin in Eastern Jordan) to test whether the plants living during this period and, by extension, the hunter-gatherers using this ancient site experienced water stress. I’m especially interested in whether water stress increased leading up to the site’s abandonment almost 20,000 years ago: did a lack of water contribute to collapse?
|One of the well organized boxes of |
reference material at Bar Ilan University
So, in November 2015, I travelled to the archaeobotany labs at Bar Ilan University in Israel to have a look at their impressive collection of Levantine and Near Eastern seeds. While visiting, I was fortunate to meet Prof. Ehud Weiss and Dr Yoel Melamed and the friendly and amazing team of archaeobotanists who work in their labs, who have excellent knowledge of the local and regional flora on top of an archaeobotanical perspective on the early time period I am interested in. I was blown away by the extent of the reference collection at Bar Ilan. Every species and even various varieties I had hoped to see were there, waiting for me in well organised boxes of slides and capsules. I only managed a few days of browsing the reference collection, but plan to return during the final stages of identification for the material I am studying from Kharaneh IV.
|Map of the location of Khareneh IV in Eastern Jordan|
In the meantime, I’ve been back in the lab at BGS, working with Dr Angela Lamb to measure δ13C in my seeds and learning a lot about statistical analyses and some of the real challenges to using isotopic methods on such ancient seeds. The initial results have certainly given me lots to think about, but I won’t give any of them away here. Keep an eye out for the publication that will hopefully result from our findings.