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Reconstructing subsistence practices: taphonomic constraints and the interpretation of wild plant remains at aceramic Neolithic Chogha Golan, Iran
In this paper we discuss the plant-based subsistence economy during the formation of archaeological horizons (AH) II and I at the aceramic Neolithic site of Chogha Golan, Iran. The deposits date to between 9,800 and 9,600 cal bp. In order to reconstruct subsistence practices and their development reliably, we conducted a taphonomic analysis to identify factors that influenced the composition of the archaeobotanical assemblage. The flotation samples derive from two excavation areas in the centre of the tell, the deep sounding and area A. Using correspondence analysis, we link the biased composition of the plant remains from AH I to their relatively poor preservation. Two different sampling strategies applied in excavation area A also affected the composition of the samples. In contrast, we did not find compositional differences among the samples from AH II of both excavation areas. Our results emphasize the need for taphonomic analyses prior to interpreting the taxonomic composition of charred archaeobotanical assemblages. Considering these results, we discuss the subsistence economy of Chogha Golan. Domestic emmer wheat was cultivated from AH II onwards. Wild barley, Aegilops sp., lentils, peas and various vetches may have been cultivated as well. This spectrum of typical Neolithic food plants was supplemented by a high diversity of other potential wild food resources, including medium and small-seeded grasses, Pistacia, Bolboschoenus glaucus, Malva and Brassicaceae. A compilation of ethnobotanical data, mainly from the Near and Middle East, represents the basis for assessing the potential uses of the wild plants.
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