John Marston and alumna, Kathleen Forste (GRS’21), co-author an article

John M Marston, Director of the Archaeology Program at Boston University, Kathleen Forste (GRS’21), Lecturer in the Archaeology Program at Boston University, and Tracy Hoffman, Tel Shimron Excavations, co-authored the article titled, “Urban agricultural economy of the Early Islamic southern Levant: a case study of Ashkelon,” in Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2022) 31:623–642

The abstract of the article: Archaeobotanical research in the southern Levant has focused on the development of agriculture and urban societies, but less so on how agriculture sustained long-lived cities during the 1st millennium CE. Recent empirical evidence for agriculture during the Early Islamic period (636–1099 CE) has resulted in the development of new models for urban agricultural economies for that period. This study draws on the spatial analysis of plant remains including wood charcoal collected from domestic, industrial, and refuse contexts in Early Islamic deposits at the city of Ashkelon to (1) characterize the agricultural system in place; (2) investigate local cultivation or importing of crops; and (3) determine preferential use of plants for food or fuel, as well as construction and craft applications. We identify household-based storage of cleaned wheat and barley, and the preferential use of pine and cedar of Lebanon timber in construction of a large residence. We also identify an overlap in discard location of waste from craft industries and kitchens, and a co-occurrence of fruit remains and wood charcoal that we interpret as evidence for local arboriculture, the cultivation of trees and vines for fruit and nuts.

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