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A thousand years of farming : agricultural practices from the Byzantine to early Ottoman period at Khirbet Faris, the Kerak Plateau, Jordan.

Hoppe, Chantelle (2001) A thousand years of farming : agricultural practices from the Byzantine to early Ottoman period at Khirbet Faris, the Kerak Plateau, Jordan. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This archaeobotanical analysis was carried out as part of the Khirbet Faris project: a multi- disciplinary archaeological study of a rural village on the Kerak plateau with a chronology dating from the Bronze Age to Ottoman period. It has contributed to the debate surrounding settlement, economic continuity and change and the influence of Islamic expansion on agricultural practices in this environmentally and politically marginal location. An ethnoarchaeological analysis, FIBS (Functional Interpretation of Botanical studies), was carried out to aid the interpretation of crop management practices from archaeobotanical remains. Results of the analysis have indicated general continuity in agricultural activity from the Byzantine to early Ottoman periods: Free threshing wheats, barley, pulses, fig, olive and vine were all cultivated throughout this period. The samples were rich and of mixed origin, and typically dominated by cereal grain and chaff (mostly cleaned barley and wheat grain and chaff). Settled farmers seem to have adopted a mixed economy, utilising a range of crops together with animal herds. Crop residues were used to feed herds and the dung used as fuel, to varying degrees across the site, throughout the Islamic period. Contrary to Watson's (1983) belief that free-threshing wheats were introduced at the time of Islamic expansion, as part of a wider agricultural revolution, these crops seem to have been cultivated from at least the Byzantine period. Signs of agricultural change appear from the 13th century A. D. New, `exotic' crops: cotton, sorghum, watermelon, pistachio and citrus fruit. Analogy with FIBS evidence suggests irrigation may have been introduced at this time. These `introductions' appear first in the mid-Islamic period, not at the advent of Islamic expansion as Watson describes, perhaps due to the marginal location of Kerak. It is questionable whether these `exotic' crops were cultivated or imported as they are present at a low frequency in the samples. Irrigation evidence comes from the weeds of winter cereal crops so there is no direct evidence for the irrigation of `exotic' summer crops. It is, therefore, uncertain to what extent these introductions affected the local landscape and economy. The success of the FIBS analysis in aiding interpretation of the archaeobotanical assemblage, in terms of crop management practices, is encouraging for future archaeobotanical research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Archaeology (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Archaeology (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.497471
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2013 13:03
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4219

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