Reassessing ancient Egyptian crops, crop husbandry and the agrarian landscape

The main focus of the project is to provide a well-integrated reassessment of the diversity, distribution and use of Egyptian crops, crop husbandry and the agrarian landscape through the systematic compilation and analysis of Egyptian archaeobotanical data which will also be integrated with the textual, artistic and ethnohistorical evidence for crops and other species in order to create a more powerful methodology for understanding the complex processes of ancient Egyptian agriculture than the use of any single source of evidence alone. Although derived from often disparate datasets, the database aims to provide a consistent baseline for a direct comparison between taxa, sites, periods, and regions, types of preservation, etc. There is no doubt that the objective and replicable models produced by the recording and integration of the archaeobotanical and Egyptological datasets will have relevance to broader themes in archaeology, Egyptology, archaeobotany, agronomy, environmental landscape studies, etc.

Principal investigator
Professor Peter Ucko
Principal project staff
Professor Peter Ucko
Start date
Saturday, November 1, 2003
Completion date
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Source material
The data are derived from archaeobotanical site reports, articles and books (of which I have assembled a comprehensive bibliography), as well as my own archaeobotanical research on several Egyptian sites. I have made trips to Egypt to add my own field data, locate site reports, confer with other archaeobotanists working in Egypt and investigate other botanical databases based on (modern) Egyptian plants. Evidence from the artistic, textual and ethnohistorical records found in the Egyptological literature which relate to the crops and other species included in the database, as well as to agricultural techniques and crop husbandry are also included. This information is all manually added to the database.