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Abstract

This study presents a preliminary analysis of archaeobotanical remains recovered during the 2012 excavations at the site of Huqoq, Israel. The site, located near the Sea of Galilee, was continually occupied from the Roman period through the 19th and 20th centuries until it was finally depopulated during the 1948 Palestine war. Although excavations at Huqoq have focused on a Late Roman/Byzantine synagogue building and domestic structures in the associated village, the remains of the modern village overlying the ancient synagogue are being excavated carefully to document all phases of occupation at the site. This analysis of the archaeobotanical assemblage aids site interpretation by providing evidence of crop production relating to the local and regional economy of the site. The results of this preliminary research support the region being agriculturally productive and provide data on changes in agricultural techniques and trends practiced through time. This study also looks at taphonomy as samples from the 19th and 20th centuries contexts show abundant and excellent preservation compared with earlier period samples. To date, several economic crop species have been identified, such as wheat (Triticum aestivu, T. durum and T. aestivo-compactum), barley (Hordeum vulgare) and several legumes, such as lentils (Lens culinaris), chick peas (Cicer arietinum) and bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia). There is also considerable evidence in the assemblage of crop by-products (chaff) and weeds specific to crop fields, like Lolium temulentum, Phalarus sp., Medicago sp., Galium sp. and Malva sp., which indicate intense local cultivation. Historical records suggest that Huqoq was well known for its mustard production and seed (Brassica sp.) have been identified at the site, supporting the documentary evidence. Olives (Olea europaea) and Christ’s thorn (Ziziphus spina-christi) also feature prominently in the assemblage.

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