Medieval Agricultural Practice and Exchange at Arpa Village, Armenia

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The Ohio State University

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The Arpa Village site was a major settlement in the Medieval Age in Armenia, a period which has sparse research. This project analyzes the archaeobotanical remains (carbonized seeds and plant parts) of several loci of this settlement to understand further the agricultural, economic, and wild plant remains. These remains allow for comparison and connection to the lifestyles of the people who lived in this area. The Arpa Village was a bustling village as well as along the trade route of the Silk Road throughout the late Middle Ages. Past archaeobotanical research of this region of Armenia has been done contextualizing the palaeobotanical remains from a caravanserai site as well as a nearby cave, but more research must be fulfilled in various contexts of the geographical location to compare the results for further conclusion. This study broadens our understanding of agriculture and trade within Armenia along the Silk Road trade network. Archaeobotanical remains were identified to plant taxa (family, genus, or species level when possible), the data was categorized for analysis of the remains within the samples. Wheat (Triticum aestivum/durum) was the most encountered cultivated taxa followed by barley (Hordeum vulgare) and millet (Panicum sp./Setaria sp.). Other cultivated seeds found included various legumes (Fabaceae), grape (Vitis vinifera), rice (Oryza sativa), pine nut (Pinus sp.), peach (Prunus persica), and pomegranate (Punica granatum). Many of these seeds indicate various forms of agriculture and seasonality and suggest the possibility that the Arpa village was an economic trading center. The wild and weedy taxa consisted of over 25 families and 50 species, but the Rumex/Carex/Polygonum and Chenopodiaceae/Chenopodium sp. categories occurred in the greatest number of samples as well as consisted of the highest prevalence of the wild and weedy seeds overall. The diversity of the wild and weedy seeds leads to the findings that the landscape and geography of Arpa was quite diverse during this era. The data gathered from the few Armenian archaeobotanical studies can be compared to better contextualize and create a better image of the agricultural, economic, and lifestyle practices that occurred in the Middle Ages of Armenia.



medieval agriculture, archaeobotany, Silk Road, Armenia