RAINDROPS combines ground-breaking research on plant physiology with original archaeobotanical applications and records of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) on cultivation systems in drylands to deliver an innovative and reliable methodology to understand past water management practices.
Plant remains from archaeological sites are the most direct evidence of ancient cultivation practices. RAINDROPS combines experimentally controlled data of macro-remains (carbon isotopes) and micro-remains (phytolith morphological ratios, and oxygen and silicon isotopes), with ethnographic evidence to create a methodological framework for the assessment of crop water availability.
This approach is developed for two of the major tropical and sub-tropical crops, both in prehistory and today – finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.] and sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] – and is applied to selected key archaeological settings (Harappa, Pakistan; Al Khiday, Sudan and Mezber, Ethiopia).