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Bronze Age olive domestication in the north Jordan valley: new morphological evidence for regional complexity in early arboricultural practice from Pella in Jordan

Dighton, Anne, Fairbairn, Andrew, Bourke, Stephen, Faith, J. Tyler, Habgood, Phillip
Vegetation history and archaeobotany 2017 v.26 no.4 pp. 403-413
Olea europaea, arboriculture, archaeobotany, domestication, endocarp, morphometry, olive oil, olives, pressing, selection pressure, trees, Jordan
Recent research from the site of Pella in Jordan examines the process and timing of olive cultivation. The frequent presence of olive remains from the Pottery Neolithic, beginning in the Yarmoukian, suggests that exploitation of the olive dates from as early as c. 6200 cal BCE, with evidence of oil pressing from at least c. 5200 cal BCE. Morphometric data, spanning the Late Neolithic to the Middle Iron Age II, using the measurement of olive endocarp length and width, demonstrates a reduction in the size variation of olive endocarps through time, in addition to an increase in their length, likely the result of selection pressure on trees. At Pella, this change occurs sometime after the Chalcolithic and before the Late Bronze Age, probably post-dating the earliest phases of the Early Bronze Age. Domestication is thus later than Teleilat Ghassul (Jordan), which has the earliest morphological evidence for olive domestication, and suggests that olive domestication was a regionally and temporally diverse process.