Thursday, May 12, 2022

Spicy garbage on the Negev's Incense Trade Route

GARBAGE ARCHAEOLOGY: Israeli research on ancient rubbish shine light on Incense Trade Route.Analysis of the ancient trading route's garbage deposits point to early process of globalization between the years of 300 BCE to 300 AD (Yaron Drukman,
Remains of these goods have been uncovered in recent years throughout archeological sites, many of which are located in Israel. Chemical analysis showed reserves of cinnamon remain in Tel Dor, reserves of vanilla have been discovered in Jerusalem, and remains of turmeric were found in teeth of a human buried in Megido.

The new research project - led by Professor Bar-Oz, PhD student Roy Galili from Ben Gurion University, Daniel Fuks, Tali Erickson-Gini, Yotam Tepper, Nofar Shamir and Gideon Avni - aimed to focus on locating the raw materials that had been transported their journey. The route infrastructure, the means by which people walked or rode between road stations (caravanserais), the size of caravan trains, and the remains traders left at the stations along the roads were the focal points of the team's project.

The article links to the underlying article in the journal Antiquity, via Cambridge Core. It is behind a subscription wall: Caravanserai middens on desert roads: a new perspective on the Nabataean–Roman trade network across the Negev (Guy Bar-Oz, Roy Galili, Tali Erickson-Gini, Yotam Tepper, Nofar Shamir and Gideon Avni).

Long-distance trade routes criss-crossed ancient Africa and Eurasia. Archaeological research has focused on the commodities in transit and the excavation of major centres located along these routes, with less attention paid to smaller caravanserai and evidence such as rubbish middens. The ‘Incense Route’ linked the Arabian Peninsula and Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, with activity peaking during the Nabataean and Roman periods. The authors present the results of test-pit excavations of middens at three small Nabataean–Roman desert caravanserai along the ‘Incense Route’. The assemblages recovered include material culture attesting to wide, inter-regional connections, combined with archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological data illuminating the subsistence basis of the caravan trade.

For more on the Incense Trade Route, see here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.