The Agricultural Origins of Urban Civilization (AGRICURB)

The aim of this four-year project (2013-17) is to develop new understandings of the relationship between early farming practice and social change, in particular the emergence of urbanism.  Archaeologically the focus is on three regional sequences of Neolithic and Bronze Age sites – in western Asia, the Aegean and central Europe. 

Methodologically we are refining and integrating new or recently developed approaches to the inference of crop growing conditions and land management practices.  Development of each approach involves work on present-day experimental and traditional agriculture settings.  Our approaches include analysis of stable light isotopes (especially C and N) in crops for inferring water status and soil N conditions (including manuring practice); application of plant functional ecology to the analysis of weed flora as evidence of key environmental parameters such as soil disturbance and productivity; and measurement of strontium isotope ratios (and trace element concentrations) in crops for assessing the spatial distribution of arable areas in the landscape.  Stable isotope investigations incorporate palaeodietary analysis of faunal and human skeletal assemblages in order to place crops in ancient food webs.

Principal investigator: Amy Bogaard

Bioarchaeology: Laura Green (DPhil, Oxford), Valasia Isaakidou (post-doctoral researcher, Oxford), Angeliki Karathanou (Thessaloniki), Chryssa Petridou (Thessaloniki), Elizabeth Stroud (DPhil, Oxford)

Plant science: John Hodgson (senior scientist), Nick Kruger (senior scientist, Oxford)

Stable isotopes and palaeodiet: Julia Lee-Thorp (senior scientist, Oxford), Erika Nitsch (post-doctoral researcher, Oxford), Don Porcelli (senior scientist, Oxford), Amy Styring (post-doctoral researcher, Oxford), Petra Vaiglova (DPhil, Oxford)

Statistical analysis: Geoff Nicholls (senior scientist, Oxford), Erika Nitsch (post-doctoral researcher, Oxford)

Collaborators – western Asia: Mike Charles (Oxford), Mette Marie Hald (National Museum, Copenhagen), Ian Hodder (Stanford), Augusta McMahon (Cambridge), Richard Meadow (Harvard), Reinder Neef (DAI, Berlin), Jürgen Seeher (DAI, Istanbul), Alexia Smith (Connecticut), Arkadiusz Soltysiak (Warsaw), Gil Stein (Chicago), Jill Weber (UPenn), Harvey Weiss (Yale)

Collaborators - Aegean: Stelios Andreou (Thessaloniki), Manthos Besios (Ephoreia, Pieria), Bill Cavanagh (Nottingham), John Coleman (Cornell), Pascal Darcque (CNRS, Nanterre), Melanie Fillios (Sydney), Armelle Gardeisen (CNRS, Lattes), Paul Halstead (Sheffield), Glynis Jones (Sheffield), Kostas Kotsakis (Thessaloniki), Petros Kounouklas (Bristol), Dimitra Malamidou (Ephoreia, Kavala), Daphne Nikolaidou (Thessaloniki), Aikaterini Papanthimou (Thessaloniki), Maria Pappa (Ephoreia, Thessaloniki), Josette Renard (Montpellier), Sevasti Triantaphyllou (Thessaloniki), Zoï Tsirtsoni (CNRS, Nanterre), Soultana Valamoti (Thessaloniki), Anastasia Vasileiadou (Thessaloniki)

Collaborators – central Europe: Corina Knipper (Mainz), Rüdiger Krause (Frankfurt); Elske Fischer, Ursula Maier, Manfred Rösch, Helmut Schlichtherle, Marion Sillmann, Elisabeth Stephan, Hans-Peter Stika (Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Stuttgart)

Archaeological sites in the project include:

Western Asia: Tell Brak, Çatalhöyük, Hattusha, Tell Leilan, Tell Zeidan,

Aegean: Archontiko, Dikili Tash, Halai, Knossos, Koufovouno, Kynos, Makriyalos, Toumba Thessalonikis

Central Europe: Heuneburg, Hochdorf, Hornstaad-Hörnle 1A, Kirchheim Osterholz, Sipplingen, Vaihingen

Project sponsor: European Research Council