An Archaeobotanical Perspective on Environment, Plant Use, Agriculture, and Interregional Contact in South and Western Iran
Agricultural and Resource Economics
Biological and Physical Anthropology
History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology
Plant remains from archaeological sites reflect many aspects of the relationship between people, plants, and the environment in which they lived. Plant macroremains—seeds and wood that are visible without a microscope—can address a wide range of questions. The most basic include what crops were grown? What was used for fuel? Do any of the plants come from distant lands? Examples from fourth and third millennium deposits at Farukhabad, Sharafabad, Godin, and Malyan show that within the basic agricultural assemblage of wheat and barley shared by all sites, Sharafabad and Godin have stronger evidence of irrigation, lentil and flax, and Farukhabad appears to be more oriented toward pastoral production than the other sites. This article provides an introduction to archaeobotany using examples drawn from several fourth and third millennium sites in southern and western Iran. Human impact on the vegetation in Khuzestan and Fars appears to have been minimal at this time. A few unexpected finds (a date pit from cold-country/Sardsir Malyan suggests trade and rice at Parthian Susa may be evidence of a new crop that had long been cultivated in the Indus valley.