Agricultural History of the Horn of Africa: New Archaeobotanical Evidence from Mezber

Author(s): Alemseged Beldados; A. Catherine D'Andrea

Year: 2017


Archaeobotanical analysis of samples from the site of Mezber are underway with the goal of investigating the early agricultural history of northern highland Ethiopia. Mezber is a Pre-Aksumite site excavated by the Eastern Tigrai Archaeological Project (ETAP) with cultural deposits dating from 1600 BCE to CE 1, and occupied over four phases. In 2014-16, a total of 59 soil samples ranging in size from 1.8 to 7.5 liters was processed by manual flotation. Macrobotanical remains from light fractions were identified with the help of comparative collections at the Archaeology Laboratory, Addis Ababa University. Identified crop species include barley (Hordeum vulgare), emmer (Triticum dicoccum), lentil (Lens culinaris), linseed (Linum usitatissimum) and the indigenous staple crop tef (Eragrostis tef). Direct AMS dates were obtained on charred lentil and barley recovered from the earliest occupational phase, with determinations of 2810±30 BP (1050-895 cal BCE) and 2780±30 BP (1004-844 cal BCE), respectively. These AMS determinations constitute the earliest directly dated evidence for crops in the Horn of Africa. In addition, the extended occupational sequence at Mezber provides a window on changing agricultural practice throughout the Pre-Aksumite period.

Cite this Record

Agricultural History of the Horn of Africa: New Archaeobotanical Evidence from Mezber. Alemseged Beldados, A. Catherine D'Andrea. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430977)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14736