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Changing foodways: watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) consumption in Roman and Islamic Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt

By Alison Cox and Marijke Van der Veen


This paper was published as Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 2008, 17 (Supplement 1), pp. 181-189. It is available from DOI: 10.1007/s00334-008-0164-8Metadata only entryThe identification of size differences in watermelon seeds recovered at Roman and Islamic period Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt, initiated research into the signature of seed eating. Distinct breakage patterns were found on the testa of watermelon seeds eaten by seven volunteers. Comparison of these patterns with those of the archaeological material established that some of the watermelon seeds at Quseir al-Qadim were eaten during the Islamic, but not the Roman, period. This, plus a size difference in the seeds (larger in the Islamic period), has raised questions about which subspecies of Citrullus lanatus was/were present at this site, and exactly when human consumption of the sweet fruit flesh and the seeds was first established in Egypt. Ancient DNA research may be needed to resolve these questions

Topics: Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, Foodways, Seed eating, Quseir al-Qadim
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s00334-008-0164-8
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