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Egypt's earliest granaries: Evidence from the Fayum

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... However, these correlations were locally varied (Kröpelin et al. 2008). Domesticated emmer wheat and barley was found in the Fayum by Gertrude Caton-Thompson in the early twentieth century and dates to approximately 7100 BP (Wendrich and Cappers 2005). However, the lake provided a relatively predictable resource base, so these domesticates added to, rather than replaced, existing subsistence strategies of hunting, fishing and foraging (Holdaway et al. 2010a). ...
... Age determinations from Kom K and W suggest material accumulated over approximately 500 years or less (Holdaway et al. 2010a;Wendrich et al. 2010). People in the Fayum made use of both domesticated species, as well as wild resources (Brewer 1989;Gautier 1976;Linseele 2008;Wendrich and Cappers 2005). In particular, predictable lake resources such as catfish were exploited seasonally (Brewer 1989). ...
... It is necessary to note however that no evidence for domesticated plants has been recovered from Kom W or its immediate surroundings. Remains were found in the K-pits near Kom K, which is 8.5 km from, and roughly contemporaneous with, Kom W(Wendrich and Cappers 2005;Wendrich et al. 2010). Therefore, it is assumed people who inhabited the area of Kom W had access to such resources. ...
Thesis
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Mobility is a useful but highly variable process with which to understand how people interacted with their environments in the past. Commonly cited archaeological proxies for mobility often reflect only the potential to move or may represent different behaviours in different contexts. This can mask the range of variability in past human behaviour. An alternative approach is to investigate independent, empirical evidence of human movement which may then be related to broader contextual variables such as environment and economy. Stone artefacts are useful as they can be shown to have moved from one point to another. This thesis focuses on the patterning in flake to core ratios as a direct proxy for human movement. Late-Holocene Rutherford’s Creek, Australia, and mid-Holocene Fayum, Egypt, are two locations with extensive surface stone artefact assemblages, where the level of mobility and the contexts in which this occurred are known. Analysing flake to core ratios from known contexts allows a detailed understanding of how the variance in values might be interpreted. A method is presented for understanding the effects of initial cobble size, reduction intensity and artefact movement on the flake to core ratio in each region. The results suggest that a large amount of the variance in values is explained by differential initial cobble size and show that similar values in different contexts can reflect different behaviours. At Rutherford’s Creek, people were highly mobile and transported flakes. In the Fayum, they were less mobile and transported cores. Overall, approaching mobility as outlined in this thesis allows a more nuanced understanding of how patterning in stone artefact assemblages relates to human mobility and provides a glimpse into the intricacies of human behaviour and the range of unique ways in which people interacted with their environments in the past.
... It is frequently stated that mobile people obtain their material culture from neighboring settled populations rather than producing their own and that they do not leave recognizable archaeological traces (Finkelstein and Perevolotsky 1990). From the 24 chapters in this volume, however, and from many more studies that have appeared elsewhere in the recent past (for instance Irons and Dyson-Hudson 1972;Bar-Yosef and Khazanov 1991;Cribb 1991;Chang and Koster 1994;Bar-Yosef and Rocek 1998;Khazanov and Wink 2001;Veth et al. 2005), it must be concluded that there is indeed an 'archaeology of mobility.' By using specific and well-defined methods, which take into account the low density of artifacts and concentrate on regional studies, it is eminently possible to come to a better understanding of mobile people in archaeological contexts. ...
... Lifting specific subjects out of their customary regional or temporal context, as well as discussing individual studies in a multidisciplinary setting, enable us to approach our research with fresh considerations and to discuss methodologies and results in a wider interpretative framework. That such a multiregional and multidisciplinary approach can be extremely stimulating and lead to surprising new insights is clear from similar initiatives (such as Bailey and Parkinson 1984;Veth et al. 2005), as well as from the chapters presented here. ...
... The study of sites concentrates on the stationary activities and on the shelters with which mobile groups equip themselves (Magid,Chapter 20). Storage facilities may be indications of recurring visits to the same area (Eerkens, Chapter 14; Akkermans and Duistermaat 1997;Wendrich and Cappers 2005). On a regional level an inventory of available resources, indications of routing and other remains of the same chronological period enables the reconstruction of a mobility pattern. ...
... The Fayum (Figure 1.1) contains some of the earliest evidence for the introduction and exploitation of southwest Asian domestics such as wheat and barley in Egypt (Hassan 1988;Wendrich and Cappers 2005). The introduction of domesticates into Egypt occurred relatively late when compared to the Mediterranean basin (Zeder 2008), however, the unique nature of human-environmental interaction in Egypt is not well understood for this period. ...
... Evidence for storage exists in the Fayum (Figure 1.2) in the form of basket-lined silos found at the Upper K Pits. Caton-Thompson and Gardner (1934) were the first to find and document the silos, and since then, more silos have been excavated from the Upper K Pits (Wendrich and Cappers 2005). ...
... Hassan (1986) concluded that the change in lithic typology between the Fayum B and A cultures was due to people moving into the area from the increasingly arid Western Desert, which supports more recent theories such as those of Marshall and Hildebrand (2002) and Wengrow (2006) that suggest domesticates were introduced into Lower Egypt from both the Western Desert and South-West Asia. Some of the earliest evidence for the use of domesticated grain species in Egypt comes from the Fayum (Wendrich and Cappers 2005). ...
Thesis
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The occupation of Kom W (Fayum, Egypt) is not well understood. Previous investigations have suggested the occupation may be representative of a range of sites, from a temporary encampment to a village. This study uses ceramics from museum collections to investigate the occupation of Kom W. The method proposed makes use of an entire ceramic assemblage, regardless of its position or state of preservation. This method is used to estimate the number of vessels represented by sherds, by using geometric data from complete vessels from the same assemblage. The results of this study suggest some vessels were used for storage on Kom W, which has implications for the nature of occupation during the Neolithic.
... There is no evidence for sedentary settlement; most archaeological deposits consist entirely of lithics, ceramics, and hearths, with animal bones and ostrich eggshell scattered across deflated surfaces (Caton-Thompson and Gardner, 1934;Holdaway and Wendrich, 2017;Wendorf and Schild, 1976). Limited numbers of pottery sherds and grinding stones accompany numerous flaked stone artifacts, all made from imported flint cobbles, while a number of basket-lined pits formed grain storage areas (Caton- Thompson and Gardner, 1934;Holdaway et al., 2016;Wendrich and Cappers, 2005). Diet consisted of large numbers of fish, limited numbers of domestic caprids (and, in the middle Holocene, cattle and pigs), and likely a variety of wild plant resources, in addition to cereal (emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum) and six-row barley (Hordeum vulgare)) cultivation in the middle Holocene (Cappers, 2013;Caton-Thompson and Gardner, 1934;Holdaway et al., 2016;Linseele et al., 2014Linseele et al., , 2016Wendrich and Cappers, 2005). ...
... Limited numbers of pottery sherds and grinding stones accompany numerous flaked stone artifacts, all made from imported flint cobbles, while a number of basket-lined pits formed grain storage areas (Caton- Thompson and Gardner, 1934;Holdaway et al., 2016;Wendrich and Cappers, 2005). Diet consisted of large numbers of fish, limited numbers of domestic caprids (and, in the middle Holocene, cattle and pigs), and likely a variety of wild plant resources, in addition to cereal (emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum) and six-row barley (Hordeum vulgare)) cultivation in the middle Holocene (Cappers, 2013;Caton-Thompson and Gardner, 1934;Holdaway et al., 2016;Linseele et al., 2014Linseele et al., , 2016Wendrich and Cappers, 2005). ...
Article
The early and middle Holocene of North Africa was a time of dramatic climatic and social change, including rapid shifts in vegetation communities and the introduction of domesticated plants and animals. Recent research from the Fayum basin of Egypt, which holds archaeological evidence for early use of domesticates, aims to place inhabitants of that region within their contemporary environmental setting. We present here results of wood charcoal analysis from three early- and middle-Holocene deposits on the north shore of the Fayum and reconstruct both contemporary woodland ecology and patterns of anthropogenic wood use. In total, three woodland communities likely existed in the area, but inhabitants of this region made heavy use of only the local lakeshore woodland, emphasizing tamarisk (Tamarix sp.) for fuel. While seasonally watered wadi woodlands were not harvested for fuel, more arid locations on the landscape were, evidencing regional mobility between ecological zones. Results indicate that wood was locally abundant and that inhabitants were able to select only preferred species for fuel. This study provides further evidence for low-level food production in the Fayum that preserved critical ecosystem services, rather than dramatic niche construction to promote agriculture as seen elsewhere in middle-Holocene Southwest Asia.
... Cattle pastoralism in the eastern Sahara of Egypt may have been practiced from the early Holocene onwards, which is considered evidence of a highly mobile adaptation to cope with an unpredictable environment (Marshall and Hildebrand 2002).While the earliest evidence of cereal agriculture in Egypt is found in the Fayum and the Delta dating to the mid-Holocene (Bard 2008;Hassan 1985Hassan , 1988Midant-Reynes 2000;Wendrich and Cappers 2005), the level of mobility this evidence implies is unclear due to the methodological shortcomings of a culture-historical approach (discussed below) and a paucity of alternative studies. Within a culture-historical framework, based on the Neolithic of southwest Asia and/or hunter-gatherer ethnographic analogy, the presence of Near Eastern domesticates on the one hand suggests people were much less mobile, but on the other hand, the exploitation of wild resources is assumed to indicate mobility because people had to move seasonally to exploit these resources (Brewer 1989;Kozlowski and Ginter 1989;Midant-Reynes 2000;Wenke et al. 1988). ...
... Rather a coincident period of increased winter rainfall resulted in cultivation of wheat and barley that relied on dryland (rainfall irrigation) farming like that of southwest Asia, making topographic features and soil types potentially affecting hydrology and water retention equally important. Faunal remains include domesticated wheat and barley, and sheep/goat, pig and cattle (Caton-Thompson 1934;Wendrich and Cappers 2005). Fish remains show marked seasonal exploitation, in particularly catfish were procured during spawning season, indicated by growth rings (Linseele pers. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Models of socioeconomic change in Neolithic Egypt are thought to relate to a complex relationship between environment, economy and social context. The development of the Egyptian Nile Valley Neolithic in particular is believed to have been influenced by a combination of the early Holocene pastoral adaptation of the eastern Sahara or the Neolithic of southwest Asia. These influences include plant and animal species and artefact types forming a Neolithic package of sorts. This package either diffused or was moved into the Egyptian Nile Valley by migrants during the mid-Holocene. The Neolithic package was believed to also include either Saharan frequent human movement related to pastoralism like that associated with the Sahara or lack of movement and village-based settlement like that associated with southwest Asia. Previous research has made general statements regarding likely levels of mobility; however, very few studies have tested this model with empirical data that documents actual human movement. My thesis tests this model using a method of stone artefact analysis dependent on all elements of an assemblage, particularly flakes and cores to document human movement. The original hypothesis suggested that an examination of three assemblages would show results consistent with this model where either Saharan or southwest Asian socio-economy predominates. Following traditional settlement reconstruction, an assemblage in the eastern Sahara would suggest movement and an assemblage in the Nile Delta, in closer geographic proximity to southwest Asia would suggest less movement. The Fayum Depression, which is situated west of the Nile Valley on the edge the eastern Sahara, but close to the Delta, might be expected to fall somewhere in between. This model of settlement is closely tied to climatic reconstructions for the Sahara, Nile Valley and Delta where environmental variables may have constrained human movement. Results contradictory to this hypothesis suggest human movement, settlement pattern, or use of landscape is very much dependent on highly localized environmental and socioeconomic context, and a wide range of variability in adaption can be expected during the mid-Holocene in Egypt. ii
... Domestic stock, cattle, sheep, goat and pigs, are attested mainly at Kom K and Kom W, at ca. 4500 cal BC (Linseele et al., 2014). Cultivated crops from the K pits near Kom K date from approximately the same period (Wendrich and Cappers, 2005; Holdaway and Wendrich, submitted for publication). Lake Qarun is today about 40 km long in an east-west direction , and 7 km at its widest point, with conditions that are nearly as saline as seawater (Fathi and Flower, 2005). ...
... Together with the new evidence for domesticated caprines from E29H1, they put the Fayum on the map as one of few the areas of Egypt with domesticated animals prior to the 5th millennium cal BC, and thus older than any evidence from the Nile Valley proper. The earliest cultivated crops found so far for the Fayum date to ca. 4500 cal BC (Wendrich and Cappers, 2005; Holdaway and Wendrich, submitted for publication). Domesticated pigs have not been documented at any sites older than this (Linseele et al., 2014). ...
Article
The oldest records for Southwest Asian domesticated livestock species in Egypt date to the late 7th but mainly the 6th millennium cal BC and are among the earliest known evidence from the African continent as a whole. The records were obtained from Egypt's Eastern and Western Desert, where only cattle and caprines are present, and are not associated with evidence for cultivated crops. It takes until the 5th millennium cal BC before significant numbers of sites, with significant numbers of bones of domesticated species appear. In the Fayum Oasis, the sites of Kom K and Kom W date to this period and these have generally received most attention in the context of early stock keeping. However, older evidence for domesticated stock has also been found in the Fayum. We describe new faunal data from the early and middle Holocene, at and around the E29H1 locality, including the oldest remains of domesticated caprines recorded from the Fayum up to now (ca. 5600 cal BC). Based on the new finds, we emphasise the need to also investigate surface sites. We argue that much of the earliest history of stock keeping in Egypt is skewed by a lack of evidence. The remaining fauna from E29H1 shows the importance of fish. This is a common feature of all prehistoric sites of the Fayum and indicates adaptations to the local environment.
... While dispersal of emmer into Europe has been well studied together with the spread of agriculture (for example, Coward et al. 2008), its dispersal to the south and east is still a matter of debate (Stevens et al. 2016). In Africa, the first settlements in Egypt date to 7,500-6,650 cal bp (Wendrich and Cappers 2005). Around 5,000 bp emmer reached Ethiopia (Helbaek 1970). ...
Article
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Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides (wild emmer wheat) was one of the first plants that gave rise to domestic wheat forms in southwest Asia. The details of the domestication of emmer and its early dispersal routes out of southwest Asia remain elusive, especially with regard to its dispersal to the east. In this study, we combine whole genome data from a selection of specimens of modern wild T. turgidum ssp. dicoccoides and domestic T. turgidum ssp. dicoccum (emmer wheats) with a previously published 3,000 year old sample, to explore the phylogenetic relationships between wild and domestic populations of emmer, and especially the early dispersal routes south and eastwards to Africa and Asia, respectively. Our data confirm a marked differentiation between landraces from Europe, the Caucasus and Iran, and those from Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and India, the first group being more closely related to wild emmer from the northern and eastern Fertile Crescent. Gene flow is detected between wild emmer from the western Fertile Crescent and the second group of domestic emmer. These results support a dispersal route from southwest Asia to Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and India. We also observe a lower genetic variability in the wild emmer from the northern and eastern compared with that of the western Fertile Crescent. It is possible that the ancestors of domestic emmer that spread into Egypt still remain to be surveyed and analysed. Investigating the genetic content of ancient samples from Europe, the Caucasus or Iran would be very valuable to determine whether the two distinct types of germplasm arose during history or were already present during the early phases of dispersal.
... clear posthole pattern is discernible, nor traces of sturdy matting or other indications of shelters. This is probably due to adverse circumstances of preservation, because on a high ridge overlooking the habitation area more than a hundred grain storage pits were found, many of which retain coarsely coiled basketry lining (Wendrich and Cappers 2005). The coiling of these round baskets with a diameter of approximately 1 m. and a height of 0.75 m. was done with wheat straw (Fig. 3.2). ...
... There is no evidence of domesticated grains at Kom W, the only evidence of which exists at the site of Kom K and the K pits, 8.35km away (Wendrich & Cappers 2005). Faunal remains suggest a focus on aquatic resources, with domesticated animals comprising a small component of the assemblage (Linseele et al. 2014). ...
Article
From 1924–1928, Gertrude Caton-Thompson and Elinor Gardner surveyed and excavated Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic sites across the Fayum north shore in Egypt, publishing a volume entitled The Desert Fayum (1934). Since then, a number of researchers have worked in the Fayum (e.g. Wendorf & Schild 1976; Hassan 1986; Wenke et al . 1988; Kozłowski & Ginter 1989), and most recently the UCLA/RUG/UOA Fayum Project. The long history of research in the area means that the Fayum is a testament to changing archaeological approaches, particularly regarding the Neolithic. Caton-Thompson and Gardner's study is recognised as one of the most progressive works on Egyptian prehistory, and their research provided the foundation for many subsequent studies in the region (e.g. Wendrich & Cappers 2005; Holdaway et al . 2010, 2016; Shirai 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016a; Emmitt 2011; Emmitt et al . 2017; Holdaway & Wendrich 2017). A recent article in Antiquity , however, uses Caton-Thompson and Gardner's preliminary interpretations of their excavations at a stratified deposit in the Fayum, Kom W, to generate a series of speculative statements concerning agricultural origins in the region (Shirai 2016b). The majority of these statements are very similar to conclusions initially made by Caton-Thompson and Gardner in the first half of the twentieth century, and new data and theory needed to reassess earlier conclusions are not considered. Recently published studies concerning the Fayum north shore and adjacent regions provide a different view of the state of research in this region and the Egyptian Neolithic in general. Here we acquaint Antiquity readers with current archaeological approaches to the Fayum north shore Neolithic, with the intent of stimulating academic debate.
... First discovered in 1926 (Caton-Thompson and Gardner) and examined in detail for the first time in 2005 after recent excavations (Wendrich and Cappers 2005), these baskets represent a coiling technique. This entails a bundle of straw fastened into a coil with a number of stems pulled out of the straw bundle at regular intervals. ...
Chapter
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... In 2004 the URU Fayum Project set out to re-investigate the region, including the Upper and Lower K Pits (Holdaway and Wendrich, 2017;Wendrich and Cappers, 2005). Workers of a governmental land reclamation company set out in the 1990s to cultivate over 2000 ha of desert, right in the K Pits area. ...
Article
The Fayum Neolithic is well-known because the earliest evidence to date for domesticated wheat and barley in Egypt is found in the Fayum depression, north of present day Lake Qarun. Here, in 1924 and 1925, Gertrud Caton-Thompson and Elinor Gardner identified two Neolithic settlements, which they named Kom K and Kom W. The evidence for early agriculture did not derive from these two settlements, however, but from a series of storage pits which Gardner found quite by accident on a high ridge, north of Kom K. What is less well-known is that apart from domesticated wheat and barley this area also yielded evidence for a well-developed basketry technology. Recent fieldwork by the URU Fayum Project (University of California, Los Angeles; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen; University of Auckland) has provided a wealth of new information on the material remains of the Fayum Neolithic including the plant fibre objects. While animal bones and ostrich egg shell have been preserved both on the surface and in stratified deposits, no animal fibre was found. The well-preserved basketry lined storage pits and their content have been used to argue that the Middle Holocene occupation in the Fayum was characterized by a sedentary society. Recent field work has shown that the basket-lined pits were sealed off in a manner that could have enabled long-term caching. This, as well as more recent insights that long term storage does not equal sedentism, leaves the question open the nature of mobility in which Fayum Neolithic society was involved. The question whether the type of materials, basketry techniques and employment can be used as indicators of a way of life, is addressed in conjunction with the results of the interdisciplinary research team as a whole.
... In contrast to the Merimda evidence, new archaeological data from around the Fayum's Lake Qarun have reemphasized that groups living there between 6500 and 6200 BP were more mobile than is usually expected for an agricultural society (Holdaway et al. 2010;Shirai 2010;Wendrich and Cappers 2005). The subsistence practices of such communities comprise a diverse mixture of hunting, gathering, and fishing activities, to which small-scale cereal production dependent on Mediterranean winter rains was added (Phillipps et al. 2012). ...
Article
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When the archaeology of Predynastic Egypt was last appraised in this journal, Savage (2001a, p. 101) expressed optimism that “a consensus appears to be developing that stresses the gradual development of complex society in Egypt.” The picture today is less clear, with new data and alternative theoretical frameworks challenging received wisdom over the pace, direction, and nature of complex social change. Rather than an inexorable march to the beat of the neo-evolutionary drum, primary state formation in Egypt can be seen as a more syncopated phenomenon, characterized by periods of political experimentation and shifting social boundaries. Notably, field projects in Sudan and the Egyptian Delta together with new dating techniques have set older narratives of development into broader frames of reference. In contrast to syntheses that have sought to measure abstract thresholds of complexity, this review of the period between c. 4500 BC and c. 3000 BC transcends analytical categories by adopting a practice-based examination of multiple dimensions of social inequality and by considering how the early state may have become a lived reality in Egypt around the end of the fourth millennium BC.
... During later occupations hunting and fishing were supplemented with the use of domestic grain as witnessed by carbonized Emmer wheat and barley in hearth contexts, storage pits lined with basketry, which also contained domesticated Emmer wheat and barley, dated to approximately 5000 B.C.E. (Caton-Thompson & Gardner, 1934; Wendrich & Cappers, 2005) and domestic sheep/goat, cattle, and pig (Linseele et al., 2014 ). This is an example of lowlevel food production societies (Smith, 2001; Holdaway, Wendrich & Phillipps, 2010), in which domestic species added to, rather than replaced existing subsistence strategies dependent on wild food resources. ...
Article
Geoarchaeological research was performed across an archaeological landscape along the hyperarid northern paleoshores of the modern Lake Qarun, Fayum Basin, Egypt. Objectives were to record sedimentary variability and to consider the correlation between the paleoenvironmental interpretations of these sedimentary data and the observed archaeological record dated to the early and mid-Holocene. Our approach combines hand-drilling and stratigraphic descriptions with detailed studies of sediments (grain size analysis, analyses of CaCO3, and organic matter contents), densities of stone artifacts and bones, and chronometric data from associated contexts (AMS 14C dates on charcoal from hearths). Analysis of deposits indicates initiation of lake deposition, reworking of lake deposits, and subsequent accumulation of wind-blown deposits occurred prior to the deposition of archaeological materials. Correlations between sediment and the archaeological deposits indicate a different use of areas covered by relatively coarse-grained sediment (sand) compared to areas where relatively fine-grained deposits are exposed (clay and silt). Reassessment of the associations between archaeological materials and sediments in the Fayum Basin is required to improve knowledge of the interrelationships between the Nile flood history, regional climatic changes, oscillations in levels of paleo-Lake Qarun, compared to the chronology of human occupation in the Fayum Basin.
... La région oasienne du Fayoum fait partie de ces premiers centres d'implantations des influx orientaux. Dans les années 20, l'archéologue britannique G. (Wendrich & Cappers 2005). Ce bouchon était constitué d'un mortier de sable, sel et eau totalement hermétique après séchage (Fig. 3). ...
Article
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The late and original way in which Egypt adopted the food production economy was rapidly followed by the birth of a strongly hierarchic state society from the 4th millennium BC. Anthropology emphasizes the role of food storage in the birth of social hierarchy, some authors considering it to be at the roots of inequalities. A technological approach of the different ways of storing shows the variety of their social implications. An examination of archaeological data reveals that the use of underground anaerobic silos allowed the seasonal mobility of the first farmers like those of the Fayum. On the contrary, the storage in built granaries implies sedentism and allows stranglehold on the food supply by some individuals. There is a correlation between the appearance of this form of storage and the accentuation of the social hierarchy in Egypt. Control over these granaries is valued through funerary goods by the elites of thefirst dynasties.
... clear posthole pattern is discernible, nor traces of sturdy matting or other indications of shelters. This is probably due to adverse circumstances of preservation, because on a high ridge overlooking the habitation area more than a hundred grain storage pits were found, many of which retain coarsely coiled basketry lining (Wendrich and Cappers 2005). The coiling of these round baskets with a diameter of approximately 1 m. and a height of 0.75 m. was done with wheat straw (Fig. 3.2). ...
... dicoccon) and hulled six-row barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare) were recovered [11,17]. Large numbers of ceramics and lithics have been recovered from both Kom K and Kom W. The sites have also yielded a large number of intact hearths and shallow depressions, but no postholes or substantial pits. ...
Article
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Faunal evidence from the Fayum Neolithic is often cited in the framework of early stock keeping in Egypt. However, the data suffer from a number of problems. In the present paper, large faunal datasets from new excavations at Kom K and Kom W (4850-4250 BC) are presented. They clearly show that, despite the presence of domesticates, fish predominate in the animal bone assemblages. In this sense, there is continuity with the earlier Holocene occupation from the Fayum, starting ca. 7350 BC. Domesticated plants and animals appear first from approximately 5400 BC. The earliest possible evidence for domesticates in Egypt are the very controversial domesticated cattle from the 9th/8th millennium BC in the Nabta Playa-Bir Kiseiba area. The earliest domesticates found elsewhere in Egypt date to the 6th millennium BC. The numbers of bones are generally extremely low at this point in time and only caprines are present. From the 5th millennium BC, the numbers of sites with domesticates dramatically increase, more species are also involved and they are usually represented by significant quantities of bones. The data from the Fayum reflect this two phase development, with very limited evidence for domesticates in the 6th millennium BC and more abundant and clearer indications in the 5th millennium BC. Any modelling of early food production in Egypt suffers from poor amounts of data, bias due to differential preservation and visibility of sites and archaeological remains, and a lack of direct dates for domesticates. In general, however, the evidence for early stock keeping and accompanying archaeological features shows large regional variation and seems to be mainly dependent on local environmental conditions. The large numbers of fish at Kom K and Kom W reflect the proximity of Lake Qarun.
... Carbonised domesticated wheat and barley have recently been found at Kom K, as well as sheep/goat dung from hearth contexts. Close to Kom K are the K-pit granaries excavated by Caton-Thompson and recently re-examined (Wendrich & Cappers 2005). Both Kom K and Kom W fall into a narrow period of the Fayum Neolithic around 6500 BP, while the Upper K pits give slightly more recent dates, up to 6200 BP. ...
Article
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The existence of low-level food producers, neither wholly hunter-gatherers nor wholly agriculturalists, is predicted but hard to prove. Here the authors use lithics, the one ubiquitous common indicator, to show how the detection of missing flakes can indicate degrees of mobility, while mobility in turn shows how people coped with the unpredictable appearance of food resources. In Australia, they were opportunists, armed with a ready cutting edge. In the Fayum, they had less far to go, but still roamed.
... Beginning in 2006, the UCLA/RUG Fayum Project brought together an international group of archaeological, paleobotanical, and geological specialists to examine materials recovered at Kom W and Kom K [6]. Items obtained as the result of these excavations are stored in Egypt while a large collection of the earlier materials recovered at Kom K/W are housed in the Petrie Museum, University of London and other collections in the United Kingdom. ...
Article
a b s t r a c t The earliest evidence of the use of domesticated plants, a traditional hallmark of Neolithic societies in the ancient Near East, first appears in Egypt in archaeological sites in the Fayum depression. Due to wind ero-sion often resulting in deflation of sediments in this region, stratified sites containing organic materials are rare and the depositional contexts of some earlier 14 C measurements on Fayum Neolithic materials are not precisely documented. We report the results of 29 AMS-based 14 C determinations on charcoal recovered from stratified contexts in two Fayum Neolithic village sites, Kom K and Kom W. These data assign a mid-5th millennium BCE age to these sites and permit an estimate of the length of their occu-pation to be approximately three centuries.
Conference Paper
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These volumes publish more than 150 papers presented at the Tenth International Congress of Egyptologists, organized at the University of the Aegean (Rhodes), 22-29 May 2008. The articles are arranged in thematic sections, dealing with Archaeology; Royal ideology and society; Belief system and ritual; Language, literature and epigraphy; Art and vitreous material; Egypt and the south-eastern Mediterranean world; and Cultural heritage and museology.
Article
The utility of the cortex ratio first developed by Dibble et al. (American Antiquity, 70(3), 545-560, 2005) and extended by Douglass et al. (American Antiquity, 73(3), 513-526, 2008) is examined in contexts where cores rather than flakes may be transported. The cortex ratio is used to demonstrate the movement of artifacts by quantifying missing surface area, typically where it is the flakes that were removed and the cores that were left behind. In such situations, the removal of flakes with small volumes will result in the removal of relatively large cortical surface areas resulting in a low cortex ratio. However, when it is the cores that were removed, assemblages will lose greater proportions of artifact volume relative to the loss of artifact surface area. Here, we propose methods to investigate the effects of high-volume artifact removal from archeological assemblages as a proxy for human movement in addition to the cortex ratio. We apply the methods to stone artifact assemblages from the Fayum, Egypt, where changes in mid-Holocene mobility are closely linked to food production.
Article
Eating in Ancient Egypt: manifold evidence. The analysis of the Ancient Egyptians’ diet dates back to the beginning of egyptology. It is based on rich and varied testimonies. Administrative or private writings, inscriptions on monuments, literary fictions, sapiential books or medical compendium, as well as three or two dimensional figures, give vital information. The archaeological evidence, architectural structures, kitchen utensils, and food remains preserved by a particularly dry climate, provide additional elements. Human remains show characteristic pathologies due to some specific diet. The combination of all this data allows us to restore some of the Egyptians’ habits : eating places, customs related to and what is eaten and drunk. However, sometimes, different sources seem to contradict each other.
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