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Detection of palm fruit lipids in archaeological pottery from Qasr Ibrim, Egyptian Nubia

Detection of palm fruit lipids in archaeological pottery from Qasr Ibrim, Egyptian Nubia

Proceedings. Biological Sciences 268(1467): 593-597

ISSN/ISBN: 0962-8452

PMID: 11297176

DOI: 10.2307/3067600

In modern times, the trees of the palm family have been of great economic and social importance to the people in Egypt, as in other parts of the world. There are various species of palm and although different parts of the tree can be used, the fruit are of great value. In antiquity, it is expected that the palm fruit would also have been of great importance to people in the region. The chemical analysis of absorbed residues in archaeological pottery is well established, and through the investigation of ceramic vessels (via gas chromatography, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry) saturated carboxylic acids in the range C12 to C18 have been detected (with an unusually high abundance of C12) from vessels from the Nubian site of Qasr Ibrim. This is mirrored in the saturated fatty acid distributions detected from the kernels of modern and ancient date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) and dom palm (Hyphaena thebaica (L.) Mart.). Mixing in some of the vessels of the palm fruit with another lipid source is indicated through the delta13C values. These results provide the first direct evidence for the exploitation of palm fruit in antiquity and the use of pottery vessels in its processing.

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Accession: 003401232

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