The archaeology of land use and agrobiodiversity: recent work from western Asia and Europe

In this talk I survey recent bioarchaeological methods and case studies in the investigation of past land use and biodiversity. Recent work on early farming in western Asia and Europe is revealing its remarkably biodiversity, including a form of wheat (Timopheev’s wheat, Triticum timopheevii group) that has since largely disappeared.

As well as rediscovering such ‘lost crops’, bioarchaeology also offers means of characterising land use patterns over long time periods.

In this context I present recent work on the ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England’ ERC project in the School of Archaeology, which situates historic patterns of early medieval land use – including in Oxfordshire – in a longue durée pattern of expansive, low-input arable farming.