La mission Caucase communique

58e Congrès Annuel de la “Society for Economic Botany”

Roman HOVSEPYAN, archéobotaniste de l’Institut d’Archéologie d’Erevan et membre de la Mission Caucase, était présent au 58e Congrès Annuel de la “Society for Economic Botany”, qui se tenait à Bragança au Portugal, entre le 4 et le 9 juin 2017. Son intervention portait sur les résultats du site de Godezor, en Arménie (cf. abstract ci-dessous). 

  

Abstract : Reflection of transhumance on agriculture: comparison of agriculture of Chalcolithic and modern transhumant communities from the territory of Armenia.

Recent ethnobotanical investigations in Armenia show that transhumant lifestyle reflects on agriculture by shrinking its volumes and diversity, thus making it more specialized. The agriculture of transhumant pastoralists in Armenia (e.g. Yezidis), if there is any, is usually limited with the cultivation of cereals (wheat and barley) and sometimes also in yard cultivation of vegetables and fruit trees. Until last century, the need of vegetal food was compensated by gathering of wild edible plants, mostly from the mountains, and by bartering with agriculturalists using mostly milk products and meat. Possibly situation with agriculture and transhumance was similar since the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium B.C.), when new lifestyle – the transhumance appeared in the territory of Armenia. Two Chalcolithic archaeological sites situated in the territory of Armenia, one on the north – Getahovit-2, the other on the south – Godedzor, both revealing signs of transhumance (although part of the population of Godedzor could have been permanent), are being investigated for archaeobotany. As for modern time transhumant pastoralists, the bread wheat and the barley were the principal crops cultivated in both Chalcolithic sites. In addition, for Godedzor settlement some other crops were also recorded in low quantities (~1%): emmer, pea, lentil and possibly flax. For the Getahovit-2, a cave that was only seasonally inhabited by pastoralists, mostly remains of edible seeds of arboreal plants are recorded (species of Celtis, Crataegus, Rubus, Cotoneaster, Rosa, Prunus, Fagus, Sambucusand Vitis sylvestris). Remains of cultivated plants are extremely few in Getahovit-2 cave. Although some pulses and naked barley were still present in the archaeobotanical assemblage of Chalcolithic sites from the territory of Armenia, their agriculture already differed from that of the Neolithic population situated in the Ararat Valley when agriculture was more diverse (bread wheat, macaroni wheat, emmer, lentil, bitter vetch, pea, false flax, alyssum, etc) and less stressed on cultivation of cereals. The possible reasons for that transformation might have been the climate change, shift to transhumant lifestyle and agriculture “movement” upwards mountains.