Anthropology Professor Presents Research
At the annual meeting of The American Society of Overseas Research in Chicago, Dr. Jennifer Ramsay presented a paper titled, “Seeds of the Crusades: Archaeobotanical Material from Caesarea Maritima, Israel.” Dr. Ramsay was also active as a Board of Trustee member for the American Center in Amman semi-annual board meeting.
The Crusader period began by King Baldwin I, capturing Caesarea in 1101 CE and establishing a strong Christian presence. King Louis IX ofFrance, who used Caesarea as a base of operations in the Holy Land during his campaign of 1251-52 CE, built the great Crusader walls at the site. However, shortly thereafter Caesarea fell to the Muslims and was destroyed.
Caesarea never regained its economic advantage but between 1101 and 1187 CE it prospered nonetheless. It was noted that during this period Caesarea was famous for its wheat, its olive groves, its citrus fruits and its figs (Pawer, 1967: 206-207). Plant material from this important historical period in the Near East is almost non-existent. As a result, the 32 assemblage from Caesarea, provides rare insight into the agricultural economy during this period.
This paper presents an analysis of 87 sediment samples, totaling 855 liters that were recovered during the Combined Caesarea Excavation project to gain a better understanding of the importance of the agricultural economy of Caesarea. These samples contained 2,738 botanical specimens representing 62 taxa. The most ubiquitous species present were barley, lentils, walnuts, wheat, grape, fig, and melon. A large percentage of agricultural weed species were also recovered from the Crusader Period, which suggests that the hinterland of Caesarea continued to be a productive agricultural region, even after its economic decline.