City Gate: Archaeobotanical Analysis

The methodology of Operation CG resulted in a thorough sampling from each context. Most of the contexts were floor layers, dumps and ash tips, but tanours and other fire installations were also sampled. Some contexts, like those of phase 5 (Leilan IIa), were open air, while others were described as indoor rooms (e.g. 121 in phase 4). Many of these deposits were extremely rich, lot 25, for example, contained burnt barley seeds in an ashy matrix (Fig. 1). Due to the constraints of the excavation, the majority of these samples were dated to the mid-late third millennium (Leilan IIId-IIb). Unfortunately, the very limited exposure and nature of the second millennium deposits at the City Gate meant that those levels could not be sampled.

Figure 1.

Sampling and processing

In general, the samples were very large, their sizes ranged from 305 litres to 8 litres. 34 samples numbered from 101 to 147 were taken from the second phase of sampling, which largely superseded the first phase (30 samples). The initial samples were numbered from 11 to 52. The samples were floated in a modified Siraf tank at the dig-house and the remaining residue was checked and sorted for unfloated charred material, small bones and small objects. Very little unfloated charred material was recovered, indicating that the flotation was working efficiently.

Aims of the assessment

This assessment is being carried out in order to determine the preservation and abundance of the plant remains in relation to their deposits and the potential of the material for further analysis. A more specific objective is to observe the variation in the composition of the plant remains over the time of the accumulation of the deposits at the City Gate. For instance, we are interested in whether the presence of a cereal such as wheat, with its greater requirements in terms of water and climate than barley, remains constant or disappears during the sequence. Due to the time-consuming laboratory work needed to produce quantitative results, the analysis is still underway. At the moment, we have noted little more than presence/absence of various plant species.

A more detailed analysis after more precise identifications and counting of species will be needed to address more specific aims: to characterize the assemblages more precisely, to relate the assemblages to precise contexts and to see whether those remains can provide information on activities taking place in-situ or elsewhere in the city. In the state of the information available at present, it is not possible to comment on the contextual differences except in a few rare cases.

Tell Leilan 2002. City Gate samples

Plant remains [ GIF ]