Third to first millennium BC plant cultivation on the Khabur, north-eastern Syria


  • W. van Zeist


The plant remains secured from three settlement sites on the Khabur (fig. 1) are discussed. At third millennium BC Tell al-Raqa'i and Tell Bderi, two-rowed barley (Hordeum distichum) was by far the most important cereal, followed by emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum), einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum) and hard wheat/bread wheat (T. durum/aestivum). Lentil (Lens culinaris), pea (Pisum sativum) and grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) were at most minor crops. It is likely that safflower (Carthalllus tinctorius) was cultivated. A great number of field-weed taxa were identified. At Tell Schech Hamad, charred remains of a large supply of tworowed barley were found in one of the rooms of the Middle Assyrian Palace (13th century BC). This barley supply is remarkable because of the considerable admixture of Hordeum spontaneum, (the wild form of H. distichum). Crop plants recorded from Late Assyrian Tell Schech Hamad (7th century BC) include two-rowed and six-rowed barley (H. distichum and H. vulgare), hard wheat/bread wheat, broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum), foxtail millet (Setaria italica), lentil and sesame (Sesamum indicum).