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Veg Hist Archaeobot. 2017;26(4):415-432. doi: 10.1007/s00334-017-0602-6. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

A methodological approach to the study of archaeological cereal meals: a case study at Çatalhöyük East (Turkey).

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University College London, Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY UK.


This paper presents an integrated methodology for the analysis of archaeological remains of cereal meals, based on scanning electronic microscopic analyses of microstructures of charred food fragments from Neolithic Çatalhöyük (Turkey). The remains of cereal foods as 'bread-like' or 'porridge-like' small charred lumps of various amalgamated plant materials are frequently recovered from Neolithic and later archaeological sites in southwest Asia and Europe. Cereal food remains have recently attracted interest because the identification of their plant contents, the forms of food that they represent and the methods used in their creation can provide unique information about ancient culinary traditions and routine food processing, preparation and cooking techniques. Here, we focus on three methodological aspects: (1) the analysis of their composition; (2) the analysis of their microstructure to determine preparation and cooking processes; (3) the comparison with experimental reference materials. Preliminary results are presented on the botanical composition and cooking processes represented by the charred cereal preparations found at Neolithic Çatalhöyük (Turkey), for example cereals processed into bread, dough and/or porridge.


Food remains; Near East; Neolithic; Palaeoethnobotany; Parenchyma

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