More than 11,000 seeds and plant parts from the Jerusalem landfill were identified. To collect these remains, the excavated material had to be sieved. For the archaeobotanical remains that had been charred, a flotation machine separated the botanical remains from sediment, and the charred remains floated into empty netting. After sieving and floating the sediment, the archaeobotanical remains were examined using a microscope and compared to known plant types.

Our plant finds can be divided into six groups: cultivated grains, weeds, cultivated legumes, fruits, other edible plants including wild legumes, and other useful plants, including plants used for medicinal purposes. An impressive amount of uncultivated remains was discovered, likely because the area served as a garbage mound.

There is evidence that people who produced this waste consumed a varied diet of carbohydrates, proteins, and sugar and oil sources. A number of fruits were found, including grape (Vitis vinifera), olives (Olea europaea), figs (Ficus carica), and pomegranates (Punica granatum). Pomegranates do not grow in the wild in the southern Levant and were, therefore, considered a luxury product. These finds illustrate Jerusalem’s wealth during this time.

Since chaff was not found in the landfill, this indicates the plants already had been harvested, threshed, and winnowed prior to their arrival at the garbage mound. These were likely the remains of foods that had been prepared for meals.

A large quantity of weeds in comparison to cultivated grains (43:142) was observed. In ancient food preparation, after winnowing, the grains would be sorted by hand or sieved to separate them from the edible grains prior to cooking and grinding. Due to the large quantity of weeds in comparison to the cultivated grains, we suggest the landfill also received the unwanted weeds from the stage after winnowing and prior to cooking.—Ilana Peters and Ehud Weiss, Bar-Ilan University