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Interpreting uses of cereal threshing tools and straw storage structures from Neolithic, Chacolithic and Bronze Age sites in the near East

Author(s): Patricia Anderson

Year: 2015

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Summary

Optical reflected light and transmitted light microscopy, laser confocal analysis, SEM and EDX analyses, accompanied by field and laboratory experiments, were used to study surfaces and residues for stone and bone tools, soil deposits and mudbrick. Case studies presented here suggest two types of intensive threshing practices were occurring from the beginnings of agriculture. Bone tools from the early Neolithic in Iran show large amounts of cereals were threshed so as to leave long stems, perhaps for craft uses. In other instances, microwear of stone tools showed cereal crops were being threshed and stems cut using the threshing sledge, beginning in the late Neolithic in Syria and continuing in the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age of Syria, Iraq, and Israel, a practice that seems to diffuse initially as part of the "Neolithic package". Several sites had storage structures containing cereal straw cut by this instrument. Tools and remains of cereal threshing shed light on human cultural practices, as well as on site economy, showing intensive use of cereal straw treated with efficient instruments beginning with early agriculture, seemingly corresponding to feeding of domestic animals but also to crafts, particularly for building materials for ever larger villages.

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Interpreting uses of cereal threshing tools and straw storage structures from Neolithic, Chacolithic and Bronze Age sites in the near East. Patricia Anderson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397187)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America