Plant use from the grinding stones’ viewpoint: Phytolith analyses from Aeneolithic Monjukli Depe, Turkmenistan

  • Birgül Öğüt Freie Universität Berlin
Keywords: Monjukli Depe, Turkmenistan, Aeneolithic, phytolith analyses, grinding stones, ground stone tools

Abstract


[Resesarch Article]

Recent archaeological examinations include an increasing amount of natural science analyses. They are often carried out by external specialists and their results are often accepted by archaeologists without question. This may lead to incomplete integration of the results into an archaeological context. One of those methods, increasingly employed in the field of archaeology, is phytolith analysis. Phytoliths, microscopic silica bodies from genera-specific plant cells, allow searching for traces of plant material in archaeological contexts where methods based on macroscopic analysis have reached their limits. This paper combines natural science approaches with archaeological data by examining the social life of artefacts via phytolith analyses that can provide data to precisely determine the interpretation and variety of grinding stones, which are often misinterpreted. In this pilot study, the analyses confirmed the macroscopic observations for grinding plant material in some cases, but also opened new areas of study such as mineral-related activities, possible use of wooden implements and the connection between the different archaeological and botanical information. The analysed objects are grinding stones from Monjukli Depe, a small village in modern southern Turkmenistan that was occupied in the Neolithic and Aeneolithic periods. The site was excavated in the 1960s by Soviet archaeologists and restudied since 2010 by a team from the Free University Berlin.

Author Biography

Birgül Öğüt, Freie Universität Berlin
Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie
Freie Universität Berlin
Fabeckstr. 23-25
14195 Berlin
Germany

References

Ahlrichs, J.J. 2015, Ocker im Paläolithikum. Universitätsforschungen zur Prähistorischen Archäologie Vol. 265. Rudolf Habelt Verlag, Bonn, 242 p.
Albert, R.M., & Weiner, S. 2001, Study of phytoliths in prehistoric ash layers from Kebara and Tabun Caves using a quantitative approach. In: Phytoliths: applications in earth sciences and human history (Meunier, J.D. & Colin, F., Eds.), A.A. Balkema Publishers, Lisse, Abingdon, Exton (PA), Tokyo: p. 251-266. doi:10.1201/NOE9058093455.ch19
Ball, T., Chandler-Ezell, K., Dickau, R., Duncan, N., Hart, T.C., Iriarte, J., Lentfer, C., Logan, A., Lu, H., Madella, M., Pearsall, D.M., Piperno, D.R., Rosen, A.M., Vrydaghs, L., Weisskopf, A. & Zhang, J. 2016, Phytoliths as a tool for investigations of agricultural origins and dispersals around the world. Journal of Archaeological Science, 68: 32-45. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2015.08.010
Berdiev, O.K. 1972, Монжуклы Депе – Многослойное поceление неолита и раннего енеолита в южном Туркменистане. Каракумские Древности (Karakumskiye Drevnosti), 4: 11-34. (in Russian) (“Monjukli Depe – A multilayer settlement of the Neolithic and early Aeneolithic in southern Turkmenistan”)
Bernbeck, R. & Pollock, S. 2016, Scalar differences: temporal rhythms and spatial patterns at Monjukli Depe, Southern Turkmenistan. Antiquity, 90(349): 64-80. doi:10.15184/aqy.2015.197
Bernbeck, R., Pollock, S. & Öğüt, B. 2012, Renewed excavations at Monjukli Depe. Neo-Lithics, 2(12): 15-19.
Burke, B. 2010, From Minos to Midas. Ancient cloth production in the Aegean and in Anatolia. Ancient Textiles Series Vol. 7. Oxbow Books, Oxford, Oakville, 206 p.
Eger, J. 2013, Studien zur Fauna des äneolithischen Monjukli Depe, Turkmenistan. Kontextuelle Untersuchungen. MA thesis at the Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, 74 p. (in German) (“Studies on the fauna of Aeneolithic Monjukli Depe, Turkmenistan. Contextual Investigations”)
Faure, G. & Mensing, T.M. 2005, Isotopes: Principles and Applications. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, 928 p.
Gur-Arieh, S., Mintz, E., Boaretto, E. & Shahack-Gross, R. 2013, An ethnoarchaeological study of cooking installations in rural Uzbekistan: development of a new method for identification of fuel sources. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(12): 4331-4347. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.06.001
Hodson, M.J., Westerman, J. & Tubb, H.J. 2001, The use of inflorescence phytoliths from the Triticeae in food science. In: Phytoliths: Applications in earth sciences and human history (Meunier, J.D., & Colin, F., Eds.), A.A. Balkema Publishers, Lisse, Abingdon, Exton (PA), Tokyo: p. 87-100. doi:10.1201/NOE9058093455.ch5
Katz, O., Cabanes, D., Weiner, S., Maeir, A.M., Boaretto, E. & Shahack-Gross, R. 2010, Rapid phytolith extraction for analysis of phytolith concentrations and assemblages during an excavation: an application at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(7): 1557-1563. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2010.01.016
Kopytoff, I. 1986, The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process. In: The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Appadurai, A., Ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, Melbourne: p. 64-91. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511819582.004
Madella, M., Alexandre, A. & Ball, T. 2005, International code for phytolith nomenclature 1.0. Annals of Botany, 96(2): 253-260. doi:10.1093/aob/mci172
Piperno, D.R. 2006, Phytoliths: A Comprehensive Guide for Archaeologists and Paleoecologists. AltaMira Press, Lanham, New York, Toronto, Oxford, 238 p.
Piperno, D.R., Ranere, A.J., Holst, I., Iriarte, J. & Dickau, R. 2009, Starch grain and phytolith evidence for early ninth millennium B.P. maize from the Central Balsas River Valley, Mexico. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(13): 5019-5024. doi:10.1073/pnas.0812525106
Pollock, S., Bernbeck, R., Benecke, N., Castro Gessner, G., Daszkiewicz, M., Eger, J., Keßeler, A., Miller, N., Pope, M., Ryan, P. & Sturm, P. 2011, Excavations at Monjukli Depe, Meana-Čaača Region, Turkmenistan, 2010. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan, 43: 169-237.
Pollock, S., Bernbeck, R., Beckers, B., Benecke, N., Berking, J., Castro Gessner, G., Eger, J. & Öğüt, B. in press, Archaeological work at Monjukli Depe: A regional perspective. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan, 44: xx p.
Portillo, M. & Albert, R.M. 2011, Husbandry practices and livestock dung at the Numidian site of Althiburos (el Médéina, Kef Governorate, Northern Tunisia): the phytolith and spherulite evidence. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(12): 3224-3233. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2011.06.027
Portillo, M., Albert, R.M., Kadowaki, S. & Nishiaki, Y. 2010, Domestic activities at Early Neolithic Tell Seker al-Aheimar (Upper Khabur, Northeastern Syria) through phytoliths and spherulites studies. In: Des hommes et des plantes. Exploitation du milieu et gestion des ressources végétales de la préhistoire à nos jours. XXXe rencontres internationales d’archéologie et d’histoire d’Antibes (Delhon, C., Théry-Parisot, I. & Thiébault, S., Eds.), Éditions APDCA, Antibes: p. 19-30.
Portillo, M., Bofill, M., Molist, M. & Albert, R.M. 2013, Phytolith and use-wear functional evidence for grinding stones from the Near East. In: Regards croisés sur les outils liés au travail des végétaux. An Interdisciplinary Focus on Plant Working Tools. Actes XXXIIIe rencontres internationales d’archéologie et d’histoire d’Antibes (Anderson, P.C., Cheval, C. & Durand, A., Eds.), Éditions APDCA, Antibes: p. 161-174.
Portillo, M., Kadowaki, S., Nishiaki, Y. & Albert, R.M. 2014, Early Neolithic household behavior at Tell Seker al-Aheimar (Upper Khabur, Syria): a comparison to ethnoarchaeological study of phytoliths and dung spherulites. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42: 107-118. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.10.038
Rosen, A.M. 1992, Preliminary identification of silica skeletons from Near Eastern archaeological sites: an anatomical approach. In: Phytolith Systematics. Emerging Issues (Rapp, G.R., & Mulholland, S.C., Eds.), Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science Vol. 1, Plenum Press, New York: p. 129-147. doi:10.1007/978-1-4899-1155-1_7
Rosen, A.M. 2005, Phytolith indicators of plant and land use at Çatalhöyük. In: Inhabiting Çatalhöyük: reports from the 1995-99 seasons (Hodder, I., Ed.), Çatalhöyük Research Project Vol. 4, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, Cambridge, London: p. 203-212.
Rosen, A.M. & Weiner, S. 1994, Identifying ancient irrigation: a new method using opaline phytoliths from emmer wheat. Journal of Archaeological Science, 21(1): 125-132. doi:10.1006/jasc.1994.1013
Shanks, M. 1998, The life of an artifact in an interpretive archaeology. Fennoscandia Archaeologica, 15: 15-30. URL: http://www.sarks.fi/fa/PDF/FA15_15.pdf
Werner, D. 1977, Introduction. In: The Biology of Diatoms (Werner, D., Ed.), Botanical Monographs Vol. 13, Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, p. 1-17.
Wright, K. I. 1992, A classification system for ground stone tools from the prehistoric Levant. Paléorient, 18(2): 53-81. doi:10.3406/paleo.1992.4573
Published
31-Oct-2016
How to Cite
Öğüt, B. (2016). Plant use from the grinding stones’ viewpoint: Phytolith analyses from Aeneolithic Monjukli Depe, Turkmenistan. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 359-377. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i3.1509
Section
Papers Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research