Changing Foodways in Prehistoric Southwest Asia

This project investigates how the way in which people procured, processed and consumed animal and plant foodstuffs changed during the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture in Southwest Asia. Through an analysis of stone tool functions and other data from two Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic sites in Jordan, the project aims to reconstruct a châine opératoire of food making.

Experimental processing of plant foods using replicated stone tools

Between c. 14,500 - 8,800 years ago human groups in southwest Asia began to transform the way in which they acquired and consumed food. Over the course of c.

6,000 years people gradually replaced hunting and gathering with plant cultivation and animal hedring. This change in food procurement was accompanied by a change in the the way in which food was processed and consumed. Despite decades of research, however, we know comparatively little about how people processed raw foods and the products they consumed. Using a unique dataset from two Epipalaeolithic/Neolithic sites in Jordan this project reconstructs the food cultures of southwest Asia between 14,500 - 10,800 years ago, to better understand what social, nutritional and practical roles different foodstuffs played and why some were chosen for cultivation and domestication. We analyse stone tools using use-wear analysis to relate different motions and activities to food procurement and processing methods.

 

Arranz-Otaegui, A., Pedersen, P.N., Schmidt, A.F., Jörgensen-Lindahl, A., Roe, J., Villemoes, J., Pantos, G.A. and Killackey, K., 2023. Identifying the chaîne opératoire of club-rush (Bolboschoenus glaucus (Lam.) SG Sm) tuber exploitation during the Early Natufian in the Black Desert (northeastern Jordan). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports47, p.103677.

Pedersen PN. Approaching past and changing foodways through ground stone. 2022. 105 p. (PhD Thesis)

Pedersen, P. N., Jörgensen Lindahl, A., Sørensen, M., & Richter, T. (Eds.) (2021). Ground Stone Tools and Past Foodways: Proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of the Association of Ground Stone Tools Research. Archaeopress Publishing Ltd.

Pedersen, P.N., 2022. The Groundstone Assemblages of Shubayqa 1 and 6, Eastern Jordan-Technological choices, Gestures and Processing Strategies of Late Hunter-Gatherers in the Qa’Shubayqa. In Proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of the Association of Ground Stone Tools Research (p. 18). Archaeopress Publishing Ltd.

Ibanez-Estevez, J. J., Anderson, P. C., Arranz-Otaegui, A., Gonzalez-Urquijo, J. E., Jörgensen Lindahl, A., Mazzucco, N., Pichon, F., & Richter, T. (2021). Sickle gloss texture analysis elucidates long-term change in plant harvesting during the transition to agriculture. Journal of Archaeological Science, 136. 

Yeomans, L., & Richter, T. (2020). Preservation of seasonally abundant waterfowl? Analysis of faunal remains from middens at the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A site of Shubayqa 6 in northeast Jordan. Quaternary International, 543, 43-49. 

Yeomans, L., Martin, L., & Richter, T. (2019). Close companions: Early evidence for dogs in northeast Jordan and the potential impact of new hunting methods. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 53, 161-173. 

Yeomans, L. M., & Richter, T. (2018). Exploitation of a Seasonally Abundant Resource: Bird Hunting during the Late Natufian at Shubayqa 1. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 28(2), 95-108. 

Yeomans, L. M. (2018). Influence of global and local environmental change on migratory birds: Evidence for variable wetland habitats in the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene of the Southern Levant. Journal of Wetland Archaeology. https://doi.org/10.1080/14732971.2018.1454702

 

Researchers

Name Title Phone E-mail
Jörgensen Lindahl, Anne PhD Fellow   E-mail
Otaegui, Amaia Arranz External Researcher   E-mail
Pedersen, Patrick Nørskov PhD Fellow   E-mail
Richter, Tobias Associate Professor +4525845120 E-mail
Yeomans, Lisa Associate Professor +4527121701 E-mail

Funding

Project period: 2018-2023
PI: 
Tobias Richter