Plant imprints on pottery reveal fig tree in hellenistic Jerusalem

Yana Tchekhanovets, Suembikya I. Frumin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article proposes and tests a novel interdisciplinary method for reconstructing the ancient humans' environment by using plant imprints on pottery. Sherds with plant imprints may provide a valuable source for reconstructing certain components of the ancient vegetation, and the imprints may represent a link to the potter's immediate environment, pottery production methods, and the local cultural relationships with plants. We examined 15 sherds with plant imprints retrieved from Hellenistic strata from the Givcati Parking Lot, Jerusalem. Plant imprints were analysed for their position on the vessel and to determine which plant organ was presented; the imprints were then scanned and measured to determine the plant species. Results show clear evidence for the intentional use of green leaves for vessel rim repair. Archaeobotanical analysis of these sherds has also revealed the earliest evidence for the presence of fig tree, Ficus carica, in Jerusalem and the surrounding region. These results show that analysis of plant leaf imprints on pottery can further improve the reconstruction of ancient settlement life and its environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-201
Number of pages14
JournalIsrael Exploration Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


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