Contents of Late Chalcolithic (4th millennium BC) pottery samples from Arslantepe, Malatya (Turkey). Starch grains, phytoliths and organic residues analyses.

2019 edition

Guillermo MarĂ­n GarcĂ­a

The site of Arslantepe (Malatya plain, Turkey) has been  the subject of many research programs. In particular, archaeobotanical studies have been routinely part of the excavations allowing the recovery and study of many macrobotanical charred remains. However, some information on the use and processing of plants  could not be retrieved through macro botanical remains. Therefore, this study concentrated on microbotanical remains such as starch grains and phytoliths, specifically extracted from Late Chalcolithic pottery.

The results confirm previous findings, pointing to the presence of cereals like wheat (Triticum aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare). In addition, millet (Setaria italica) has ben identified both by starch and phytoliths analysis, being the first direct evidence of a C4 cereal to be found in the site. Also, many Phragmite ssp. phytoliths have been identified, resulting most probably from the usage of these plants in the manufacturing of mats and carpets.

Finally, Gas chromatography-Mass spectrometry (GC-MS) extraction and analyses from the pottery samples were successful and, although the results are highly preliminar, they showed a signal corresponding to palmitic and stearic acids, which is compatible with animal fats presence. All these results, allowed us to infer the differential use of pots recovered from different contexts, such as a temple, a palatine complex or a burial, thus giving us the first insights on foodways at Chalcolithic Arslantepe.