Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Dietary reconstruction of urban inhabitants of the 1 st century AD Petra
by Appleton, Laurel, M.A., East Carolina University, 2015, 100; 1598147
Abstract (Summary)

Petra, an ancient city located in southern Jordan, is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its architecturally grand buildings and tombs carved into sandstone bedrock. The establishment of Petra as the capital of the Nabataean kingdom heralded the beginning of the sedentarization of the rulers of the Nabataean people. Petra rose to prominence between the 2nd century B.C. and 1st century A.D. where up to 30,000 Nabataean people may have lived. Despite decades of archaeological excavations at Petra, little is known about how these inhabitants of such a large city could have supported themselves in a semi-arid environment. This study reconstructs the diet of the non-elite Nabataeans from the 1st century A.D., whose remains were excavated from the Petra North Ridge Tombs. The residents of Petra, like many ancient cities, likely relied on the hinterland for food items and it is expected that the residents supplemented their diet by importing foods to support their large population and to provide variability to the peoples’ diet. Here, we use a multidisciplinary approach to reconstruct the diet of the non-elite Nabataeans. This approach includes an analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of human and faunal remains, combined with paleobotanical, archaeological, zooarchaeological and papyrological data. Stable isotope analysis revealed that the non-elite Nabataeans had relatively homogenous δ13C and δ15N bone collagen and apatite values which indicates that non-elite Petraeans may have ate a similar diet that relied on water-intensive C3 plants such as barley and wheat along with meat and secondary products from animals. Evidence of local agriculture production from papyrological, archaeological and paleobotanical sources indicate that C3 plants were grown and zooarchaeological data indicates that herd animals were brought in “on the hoof” for consumption. While these data cannot directly identify reliance on imported foods within Petra, the consumption of plant types not suited for Petra’s arid environment may suggest they supplemented some locally grown crops with those imported from elsewhere. Finally, through the use of a multidisciplinary approach the data produced allows a more informed interpretation for future isotope studies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Perry, Megan A.
Commitee: Loudon, James, Mazow, Laura, Parker, S. Thomas
School: East Carolina University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: MAI 55/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Physical anthropology, Middle Eastern history
Keywords: Carbon, Diet, Isotopes, Jordan, Nitrogen, Reconstruction
Publication Number: 1598147
ISBN: 978-1-339-02456-1
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