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ACH 502: Advanced Methods in Archaeobotany: From the Field to the Interpretation of the Data


Course Title  Advanced Methods in Archeobotany: From the Field to the Interpretation of the Data
Course Code ACH 502
Course Type Elective 
Level  PhD
Instructor's Name Assoc. Prof. Evi Margaritis (Lead Instructor)
Lectures per Week 1
Laboratories per Week 2
Course Purpose and Objectives

This course will provide specialized training in archaeobotanical skills, which aim toThis course will provide specialized training in archaeobotanical skills, which aim toadvance and complement the basic themes outlined in the introductory courses onarchaeoboatny. The course will include demonstration in the field, training in thelaboratory and lectures on advanced issues of archaeobotanical research for thereconstruction of the ancient economy and past environments. In particular, thecourse will offer themes which will include:

  1. theoretical models of advancedarchaeobotanical research;

  2. taphonomical issues and issues of preservation in thearchaeobotanical record;

  3. crop processing sequences;

  4. sample handling andrecording and the analysis of archaeobotanical remains;

  5. ways of interpretingavailable data;

  6. Advanced identification of plant remains (cereals, pulses, fruits,nuts and weeds);

  7. Reconstruction of past landscapes and climates;

  8. Exploringclimate change through the archaeobotanical record.

The course will include extensive laboratory training using STARC different laboratories.

Learning Outcomes The students will broaden their knowledge in identification of plant remains usingThe students will broaden their knowledge in identification of plant remains usingancient and modern material. They will learn how to analyze, quantify and interpretthe archaeobotanical material. Furthermore, the students will gain a solidunderstanding of the principles and applications of advanced archaeobotanicaltechniques (geometric morphometry, 3D scanning and photogrammetry) while theywell also gain training in using the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Thestudents will also understand the scientific principles of aDNA, isotope and starchanalysis and their use as complementary evidence for the interpretation of thearchaeological record. The emphasis will be on the students gaining practical skillsin performing more specialized archaeobotanical analyses. All methods will bediscussed using case studies from the EMME in order to highlight their use inproviding insights to the agriculture, landscape and climate of the region.
Prerequisites None 
Background Requirements  None
Course Content 1. Domestication of cultivated plants
  1.1. Current theoretical models
  1.2. ‘’Domestication’’ of Europe
  1.3. Arboriculture and the domestication of the fruit trees
  1.4. Secondary products
2. Crop processing
  2.1. Cereal processing: experimental and ethnographic studies
  2.2. Pulse processing: experimental and ethnographic studies
  2.3. Grape: wild and domesticated; wine by products in the archaeobotanical rerord
  2.4. Olive: wild and domesticated; olive oil by products in the archaeobotanical record
3. Identification of cereals
  3.1. Glume wheats
  3.2. Free threshing wheats
  3.3. Barley
  3.4. Chaff
4. Identification of pulses and nuts
  4.1. Pulses: Common families and species
  4.2. Nuts: Common Families and species
5. Weeds Identification
  5.1. Common families of East Mediterranean
6. Principles and applications of ancient DNA analysis
7. Principles and applications of stable isotopes and starch analysis
Teaching Methodology Lectures, seminars, laboratory training/practicals

Jones, M.K. 1991. Sampling in palaethnobotany, in van Zeist, W., Wasylikowa,Jones, M.K. 1991. Sampling in palaethnobotany, in van Zeist, W., Wasylikowa,O. and Behre K.E. (eds), Progress in Old World Palaeoethnobotany, Balkema,Rotterdam, pp. 53-61.

Jones, G.E.M. 1987a. Agricultural Practise in Greek Prehistory, Annual of theBritish School at Athens 82, pp. 115-123.

Jones, G.E.M. 1987b. A statistical approach to the archaelogical identificationof crop processing, Journal of Archaeological Science 14, pp. 311-323.

Jones, G.E.M. 1990. The application of the present-day cereal processingstudies to charred archaeobotanical remains, Circaea 6, 2, pp. 91-96.

Madella, M., Lancelloti, C, Savard, M. 2014. Plants and People:contemporary trends in archaeobotany, University Arizona Press.

Margaritis E. Wine, oil and agricultural practices in Ancient Greece, BARInternational Series, forthcoming.

McCarthy, A. and Margaritis, E. Environment, landscape and society:diachronic perspectives on settlement patterns Cyprus, CAARI MonographSeries.

Margaritis, E. and Jones M.K. 2006. Beyond cereals: crop-processing and Vitisvinifera L. Ethnography, experiment and charred grape remains fromHellenistic Greece, Journal of Archaeological Science 33 (6), 784-805.

Margaritis, E. and Jones M.K. 2008a. Crop-processing and Olea europaea L.Ethnographic and experimental approaches for the interpretation of charredolive remains, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17, 381-392.58

Margaritis, E. and Jones M.K. 2008b. Olive oil production in HellenisticGreece: The interpretation of charred olive remains from the site of Platania,Macedonia, Greece, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17, 393-401.

Margaritis, E. 2013. Distinguishing exploitation, cultivation, production anddomestication. The olive in the 3rd millennium Aegean. Antiquity 87, 337,746-757.

Valamoti, S.M. 2004. Plants and people in Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Agenorthern Greece. An archaeobotanical investigation (BAR-IS, 1258), Oxford.

Wilkinson, K.N. & C. Stevens 2003. Environmental archaeology. Approaches, techniques and applications, Stroud.

Zohary, D., M. Hopf & E. Weiss 2012. Domestication of plants in the OldWorld, Oxford.

Assessment  Students will be asked to produce 2 assignments during the course of the semester, followed by research methods paper
Language English


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