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Agricultural systems in Bangladesh: the first archaeobotanical results from Early Historic Wari-Bateshwar and Early Medieval Vikrampura

Rahman, M; Castillo, C; Murphy, C; Rahman, SM; Fuller, D; (2020) Agricultural systems in Bangladesh: the first archaeobotanical results from Early Historic Wari-Bateshwar and Early Medieval Vikrampura. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences , 12 , Article 37. 10.1007/s12520-019-00991-5. Green open access

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Abstract

The present paper reports the first systematic archaeobotanical evidence from Bangladesh together with direct AMS radiocarbon dates on crop remains. Macro-botanical remains were collected by flotation from two sites, Wari-Bateshwar (WB), an Early Historic archaeological site, dating mainly between 400 and 100 BC, with a later seventh century AD temple complex, and Raghurampura Vikrampura (RV), a Buddhist Monastery (vihara) located within the Vikrampura city site complex and dating to the eleventh and sixteenth centuries AD. Despite being a tropical country, with high rainfall and intensive soil processes, our work demonstrates that conventional archaeobotany, the collection of macro-remains through flotation, has much potential towards putting together a history of crops and agricultural systems in Bangladesh. The archaeobotanical assemblage collected from both sites indicates the predominance of rice agriculture, which would have been practiced in summer. Spikelet bases are of domesticated type rice, while grain metrics suggest the majority of rice was probably subspecies japonica. The presence of some wetland weeds suggests at least some of the rice was grown in wet (flooded) systems, but much of it may have been rainfed as inferred from the Southeast Asian weed Acmella paniculata. Other crops include winter cereals, barley and possible oat, and small numbers of summer millets (Pennisetum glaucum, Sorghum bicolor, Setaria italica), a wide diversity of summer and winter pulses (14 spp.), cotton, sesame and mustard seed. Pulse crops included many known from India. Thus, while most crops indicate diffusion of crops from India eastwards, the absence of indica rice could also indicate some diffusion from Southeast Asia. The later site RV also produced evidence of the rice bean (Vigna umbellata), a domesticate of mainland Southeast Asia. These data provide the first empirical evidence for reconstructing past agriculture in Bangladesh and for the role of connections to both India and mainland Southeast Asia in the development of crop diversity in the Ganges delta region.

Type: Article
Title: Agricultural systems in Bangladesh: the first archaeobotanical results from Early Historic Wari-Bateshwar and Early Medieval Vikrampura
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-019-00991-5
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00991-5
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Dept
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083622
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