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The Diet of Early Jerusalemites

January 2, 2018

by: Edgar Asher

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Grape seeds were found in the pit.

Recent archaeological activity in the City of David in Jerusalem found evidence of a 1,100-year-old refuse pit which sheds some interesting light on what the population of the Abbasid period (AD 750–940) was producing and eating.

Eggplant seeds, among other things, were identified in the pit. This was the earliest evidence of eggplant found in Israel. Also found were grape seeds, olives, mulberries, lentils and figs. Eggplant originated in Persia and thus points to trade connections a thousand years ago between Jerusalem and neighboring countries.

Also found in the pit was a well-preserved oil lamp with an inscription of a blessing in Arabic. This was the time of the Arab conquest of Jerusalem and pointed to a change in commerce and also a change in the diet of the local community.

The seeds were preserved in the pit due to a unique set of circumstances. The seeds underwent a natural mineral process that rendered them inorganic. Their outer form did not change and decompose. So now the archaeologists and archaebotanists are able to tell us something about the dietary habits in Jerusalem’s early Islamic period.

Source: Excerpts from an article by Ashernet

Photo Credit: Eliyahu Yanai/IAA

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