Principles of Archaeology Hubbard, Emily M. “Livestock and people in a Middle Chalcolithic settlement: a micromorphological investigation from Tel Tsaf, Israel.” Antiquity 84 (2010): 1123–1134 The purpose of this paper is to describe the predominantly micromorphological findings from a site at Tel Tsaf, Israel, as well as the implications of these findings…
The findings are suggested to have reduced the likelihood of social variance. However, perhaps more importantly, the evidence suggests that both animals and grain were important to the residents as a production of surplus. Hubbard (2010) suggests that the animals were likely used to provide fuel (from dung) and to provide milk for nutrition, with the animals having a similar role to the grain silos in this scenario. Additionally, the Chacolithic period to which the Tel Tsaf site dates was a transition point from ‘egalitarian villages’ (p1131) to the more stratified world of towns and cities, with mixed architecture such as that at Tel Tsaf representing that change. Hubbard (2010) suggests that further excavations are needed, but Tel Tsaf could be seen as a snapshot from the era and may provide clues as to the evolution of this changing economy. Additionally, the use of two distinct building styles for two distinct purposes challenges the archaeological assumption that this represents social inequality. In this case, micromorphology suggests that architecture represents function and speciality rather than any differences between social groups in the community. Hubbard (2010) also draws special attention to the fact that micromorphology (a relatively new discipline) has been used to draw conclusions about the site, representing the use of such investigatory techniques in world archaeology. Methods & Data This paper is essentially descriptive, taking data from the Tel Tsaf site in Israel and putting them into an archaeological context. To do this, a lot of data was gleaned from the excavation. Data from excavations at the site from between 2004 and 2007 was used, both large-scale and micromorphological. The large-scale results were used to indicate the underlying architecture of the village, as well as the architecture of the individual structures and their layout. Excavation also found paved grain silos from the village. Micromorphology samples were taken from the buildings identified from the excavation. These samples were analysed using polarising petrographic microscopes at both the University of Reading, UK and the University of Toronto, Canada. Arguments & Conclusions The main argument of the paper is that the micromorphology of the site accounts for the differences in architecture found between the buildings. Instead of assuming that these differences provide evidence of different living styles (for example, between socio-economic classes) the micromorphology provides evidence of ‘dung spherulites and some scattered reed phytoliths’ (p1128), commonly associated with animal usage of an area. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that the differences in size and shape between the major courtyards appears to be linked to differences in function of the rooms, although there is less data given to suggest this difference amongst the human accommodation buildings. The paper also draws upon other findings to hypothesize that the animals kept in these round structures may have been kept for milk and cheese. To gain milk and cheese from the animals, it is necessary to limit the suckling, so the presence of multiple structures may indicate that this indeed was the case. Additionally, the presence of a separate enclosed area may represent a milking facility through which to provide these substances to the community. Micromorphology also identified that the majority of animals kept on the site ...
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