Chaff and straw is extensively used as a source of fuel, building material and fodder in arid zones, but this by-product of the cereal harvest is generally under-represented in the archaeobotanical record from north-west Europe. While this is partially a result of differential preservation, the evidence from a number of North African sites suggests that dissimilarities between the two regions in the availability of firewood, grazing and building material play an important role too. Differences in the way wheat and barley were used may represent an additional factor. Three types of use are distinguished: casual ‘use’, intentional local use and use as a commercial commodity, and these can be linked to scales of production and organization in the agricultural system
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