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Snapshots in time: MicroCT scanning of pottery sherds determines early domestication of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) in East Africa

Barron, A; Fuller, DQ; Stevens, C; Champion, L; Winchell, F; Denham, T; (2020) Snapshots in time: MicroCT scanning of pottery sherds determines early domestication of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) in East Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science , 123 , Article 105259. 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105259. Green open access

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Abstract

MicroCT visualisations of organic inclusions within pottery sherds from Khashm el Girba 23 (KG23), Sudan, reveal domesticated sorghum (Sorghum bicolor subsp. bicolor) at c. 3700–2900 BCE. The percentage of non-shattering spikelet bases was c. 73% of identifiable visualizations, with c. 27% representing wild types. These analyses demonstrate the domestication of sorghum is significantly earlier than suggested by previous archaeological research. These results also demonstrate that microCT scanning is a major qualitative and quantitative advance on pre-existing methods for the investigation of crop remains in pottery sherds, which hitherto have been reliant on surface impressions; it is non-destructive, provides higher resolution 3D imaging of organic inclusions, and enables greater archaeobotanical recovery of inclusions within a sherd. MicroCT analysis of ceramics, mudbrick and other building materials has considerable potential for improving the chronologies and resolution for the domestication of other cereals in the past.

Type: Article
Title: Snapshots in time: MicroCT scanning of pottery sherds determines early domestication of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) in East Africa
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105259
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105259
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Domestication episode, Spikelet base, MicroCT visualisation, Neolithic, Archaeobotany, Sudan
UCL classification: UCL
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/10114710
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