Summary of the ’Built and Grown Environments’ AMME Seminar

The second AMME seminar of the fall semester 2023 was held on 24th of October with the topic ‘Built and Grown Environments’. In their speeches, Dr. Lucía Ruano Posada and Dr. Doğa Karakaya shared case studies on this topic from the Iberian Peninsula and south-central Türkiye, respectively.

Dr. Lucía Ruano Posada’s research focuses on the Cantabrian coast, an area that comprises modern-day Great Britain, the coastal regions of Germany and France, and the northern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The areas share an oceanic climate with mild winters and cool summers, with lots of rainfall throughout the year. The architecture linked to the Cantabrian coast has been described as that of stone and wood, but new findings have shed light on earth-based construction methods used in the Cantabrian coastal area, revealing diverse building techniques and traditions. 

In her presentation, titled ‘Earth Building in Humid Environments: The Iberian Cantabrian Façade as a Case Study’, Dr. Ruano Posada introduced an ongoing project with the objective of studying and characterizing earth construction techniques on the Cantabrian coast through prehistory. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the researchers aim to study the various operational chains of the construction methods, thus understanding the unique social processes of prehistoric Cantabrian populations.


The second talk of the evening was about paleoethnobotanical research in the area of south-central Türkiye. At the beginning of his speech, Dr. Doğa Karakaya reminded the listeners of how the need for paleoenvironmental research has risen over the past two decades simultaneously with our contemporary environmental issues. The transitional periods from Early Bronze to Middle Bronze Age and from Late Bronze to Iron Age (4,200 BP and 3,200 BP, respectively) are potential examples of how environmental degradation can trigger an abrupt decline of complex societies.

Dr. Karakaya continued about the research done on the ancient plant remains found from the sites of Tell Tayinat and Zincirli Höyük. To date, approximately 300 paleoethnobotanical samples have been analyzed from both sites, resulting in the classification of more than 200 plant categories. The paleoethnobotanical results indicate that although both sites are located along the same geological formation in the Orontes Watershed and have identical crop production patterns through ages, their wild plants are particularly different, signaling diverse ecological conditions. The ancient plant remains from Tell Tayinat and Zincirli offer several important aspects for investigating climatic and/or anthropogenic impacts on environmental conditions, human agricultural decision, crop growing conditions, and soil fertility.

Thank you to both speakers and to all the attendees! The next AMME seminar will be held on Thursday, October 23rd, when we will convene on the theme of 'Ancient Kings and Ancient Queens'.