Harvesting

The first OUP experimental season took place in July 2009 in the village of Kızılkaya, in Central Anatolia. Our team was hosted by the Aşıĸlı Hüyük project and its director Prof. Dr. Mihriban Özbaşaran. The main theme of the season was the identification of harvesting practices through technological approaches. As a complement to the ‘Obsidian, Technology and Functions’ corpus, further experiments were conducted to evaluate the influence of fine volcanic soils on the wear of sickle elements used to harvest cereals, as well as to use different types of hafts and sickles and to test their efficiency.

Several replica Epipaleolithic and Neolithic hafts were manufactured by C.Bontemps (CRAVO, INRAP). Hafts were made in different kind of wood. Their morphology (dimensions, curvature, size of the groove to insert the lithic elements) were strictly similar to the documented archaeological specimens. Jacques Pelegrin (Nanterre University, CNRS) prepared the lithic inserts either in obsidian or in flint, using several techniques of knapping but mainly indirect percussion and pressure. These techniques allow the production of standardized blades or bladelets that can be easily be controled in length by truncation which make their insertion in the groove easier, because the length and regularity of the cutting edge can be controlled.

Why efficiency tests? A number of different attempts were made to correlate the efficiency of the harvesting tools with different signs of intensification of agriculture within the Near-Eastern and Anatolian Neolithic communities. So far, the proposed correlations do not rely on published experimental data. We built up a specific protocol to test the efficiency of several composite sickles. The variables under study included the raw material of the lithic element (flint vs obsidian), the degree of curvature of the haft, the length of the cutting edge, and the modality of insertion of the elements as well as individual diversity depending on whether the tools were used by a villager or an inexperienced operator.

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