Olives/was: Lactose Intolerance/Renfrew

Geoffrey Summers summers at metu.edu.tr
Mon Apr 30 11:32:27 UTC 2001

Olives and figs do not grow on the Anatolian Plateau, or at least they
do not produce edible fruit. Fig (but not olive so far as I know) trees
grow in Ankara (and London) but I have never seen an edible fig on one.
Olives could have come from Hittite controlled lands on the south coast
and N Syria, as could figs.  I am not sure about the Black Sea, perhaps
someone could help out, but today the main cash crops are tobacco, hazel
nuts and tea, with chestnut higher up. There is no evidence that the
climate was sufficiently warmer in the Late Bronze Age for either olive
or fig to have been a viable crop on the plateau. There is a false olive
(sometimes called a Russian olive) that is prolific here and which does
produce a dry and edible fruit (i.e. you don't die if you eat it),
although it is not to my taste and I have never seen it on sale. It
would not produce olive oil.

The other fruits in the list all grow around Hattusa.

A string of dried figs and burnt olives have been excavated at Kilesi
Tepe (south of Mut) by Prof. Nicholas Postgate.

Hittites kept lions, and there is an excavated Lion bone from the
Japanese excavations at Kaman Kalehöyük (pers. comm. from Prof. Omura).

I always assume that the Hittite and Neo-Hittite door lions were carved
from life, although the Phrygian ones from Gordion look more whimsical.



[ moderator snip ]

Geoffrey SUMMERS
Dept. of Political Science & Public Administration,
Middle East Technical University,
Ankara TR-06531, TURKEY.

Office Tel: (90) 312 210 2045
Home Tel/Fax: (90) 312 210 1485
The Kerkenes Project Tel: (90) 312 210 6216

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