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Plant Macroremains from an Elite Cemetery at Predynastic Hierakonpolis, Upper Egypt

Author(s): Ahmed G. Fahmy | Salah Khodary | Mohamed Fadl | Ibrahim El-Garf

Journal: International Journal of Botany
ISSN 1811-9700

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 205;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Archaeobotany | hierakonpolis | elite cemetery | past vegetation | Egypt

Plant macroremains were separated from nine tombs in an elite cemetery at locality HK 6 in Hierakonpolis. Human and animal skeletal remains were found in all tombs. The tombs belonged to Predynastic cultural period between Naqada IIA and Naqada IIIC1 (3550-3400 B.C./3200-3050 B.C.). A total of 1984 plant macroremains were identified. This botanical assemblage has been attributed to 23 plant taxa and classified into wild edible fruits, cultivated crops, wild herbs, wood and charcoal. Highest number and percentage of plant remains as well as number of plant species were recorded from tombs 1, 3 and 11. The current study shows that the Predynastic inhabitants have depended heavily on native trees as sources for wood and fuel, e.g., Acacia nilotica (L.) Del., Ficus sycomorus L., Tamarix aphylla (L.) H. Krast., Tamarix nilotica (Ehrenb.) Bunge and Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf. It was possible to reconstruct characteristic habitats and plant communities flourished nearby Wadi Abu Suffian: 1) a contracted desert vegetation dominated by Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del., Capparis decidua (Forssk.) Edgew, Fagonia bruguieri DC. and Tamarix aphylla (L.) H. Krast.: 2) a contracted ground water-bound desert vegetation included Acacia nilotica (L.) Del., Desmostachya (L.) Stapf/Imperata Rauesch., Ficus sycomorus L. and Tamarix sp.; 3) swampy habitat characterized by stands of Phragmites australis (Cavi) Trin. ex Steud., Desmostachya/Imperata, Cyperus alopecuroides Rott. and Tamarix nilotica (Ehrenb.) Bunge. Remains of conifer trees: Cedrus libani Loud., Cupressus sempervirens L. and Pinus halepensis Mill. have been found in very small amounts. They could have been introduced into Egypt from the Levant.
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