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New Data on Plant Use in the Eastern Sahara: The Macro-Remain Assemblage from Sheikh el-Obeiyid Villages and Bir el-Obeiyid Playa, Farafra Oasis, Egyptian Western Desert

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Helwan University68900, Cairo, Egypt
  • | 2 General Organization of Export and Import Control (GOEIC) Cairo Airport, Egypt
  • | 3 American University of Beirut11238, Beirut, Lebanon
  • | 4 Formerly Helwan University68900, Cairo, Egypt
  • | 5 Institute of Heritage Science (ISPC), National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Area della Ricerca di Roma 19327, Montelibretti, Rome, Italy
  • | 6 Department of Asian, African and Mediterranean Studies, University of Naples L’Orientale, Naples, Italy
  • | 7 International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies (ISMEO), Rome, Italy
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Abstract

This article discusses archaeobotanical evidence from two Sheikh el-Obeiyid villages and the Bir el-Obeiyid playa, which are located along the course of the Wadi el-Obeiyid and on the top and escarpment of the Northern Plateau, at the northern edge of the Farafra Oasis, Egypt. The villages and playa are both part of a settlement system which developed from the top of the plateau, through its various erosion surfaces, down to the bottom of the wadi. The villages in particular can be considered as seasonal base camps, populated by semi-sedentary groups who engaged in intensive exploitation of the resources available in the surrounding environment during the early and mid-Holocene. These sites can be compared to the better-known Hidden Valley village site located only 20 km to the east, the remains from which were analysed during the early 2000s by Ahmed G. Fahmy. At all the sites investigated to date in Farafra there is clear evidence for gathering and use of sorghum and other species of small-seeded wild grasses, fitting the emerging patterns of intense wild grass exploitation in attractive ecological zones for the eastern Sahara during the 9th–6th millennia BP.

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