Mon, Dec 17, 2018 — 3:11 pm
Dr. Jennifer Ramsay (Anthropology) Presents at the American Schools of Oriental Research in Denver, CO. — November 16
Session: The Transformation of Communities in the Roman Near East from Classical to Late Antiquity (Papers Honoring Kenneth G. Holum)
Seeds of Change: How Plant Remains Reflect the Transformation of Communities in the Roman Near East
The College at Brockport, SUNY, Brockport, NY, USA
Plant remains are not the first thing one thinks of when they are looking for evidence of the transformation of communities but plants are incredibly reflective of cultural preference. The analysis of botanical remains can help elucidate changing in subsistence, as well as evidence of agricultural trade and environmental fluctuations. Using plant remains from Caesarea Maritima dating from the Classical through Late Antique period, I developed a model using a World-Systems Analysis approach to predict if a settlement is a core, semi-periphery or periphery during different period of occupation. Criteria used were that core areas should contain high taxon diversity, high concentrations of luxury food items and small amounts of agricultural by-products and unprocessed agricultural goods. A semi-periphery community should contain high taxon diversity of crop species with some taxa not produced locally. Periphery areas should contain less diversity of preserved taxa, limited luxury food items and intensity of specialized agricultural production as indicated by agricultural by-products or unprocessed agricultural goods. Using these criteria, analysis of the plant remains shows transformation of the site of Caesarea and supports it as a core center during the Byzantine period, a semi-periphery in the Islamic period and although expected to be a periphery settlement during the Crusader period, the flora reflects semi-periphery status. As this study demonstrates, the analysis of plant material from archaeological sites can add a line of evidence in support of cultural transformation.