Spengler, Robert N., III, Ilaria de Nigris, Barbara Cerasetti, Marialetizia Carra, Lynne M. Rouse (2018) The breadth of dietary economy in Bronze Age Central Asia: Case study from Adji Kui 1 in the Murghab region of Turkmenistan. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 22: 372-381.
Over the past decade research into the paleoeconomy of Bronze Age (3500-800 B.C.) peoples in Central Asia has shown how complex the productive economy was. The agropastoral system involved an array of crops and herd animals. In this article, we present a paleoethnobotanical study conducted on sediment samples from excavation units at the site of Adji Kui, Turkmenistan. Excavations at the site were conducted in 2013; the site is located on the Murghab Alluvial Fan in the Kara Kum Desert. Earlier excavations at the site have shown that its occupation spanned from 2400 – 1300 B.C. The botanical remains recovered from the site illustrate that a very different landscape existed around the site in the past and that the economy was heavily reliant on farming of several different crops, as well as wild resources. In this paper, we present macrobotanical remains of wild foraged plants, such as fruits, nuts. We show that in addition to meat and dairy products, people at the site fished for small stream fish. We also present evidence for an array of cultivated grains and legumes; among the grains we identified hulled and naked barley, broomcorn millet, and free-threshing wheat; we also identified peas, lentils, grass peas, bitter vetch, and fava bean. Ultimately, we attempt to lay out part of the early stages of development of a Central Asian cuisine.