The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) in Siwa oasis (Egypt): How ethnographic, morphometric, and genetic analyses together explain the local agrobiodiversity
by Vincent Battesti*, Muriel Gros-Balthazard*, Clémence Ogéron, Sarah Ivorra, Jean-Frédéric Terral, Claire Newton
(* contributed equally to this work)
Should be published, if everything goes well, in the Human Ecology journal in 2017.
ISSN 0300-7839 (Print) 1572-9915 (Online)
Article submitted to the journal.
The agrobiodiversity of the Siwa oasis (in Egypt), located at the crossroads of ancient Trans-Saharan routes, is evaluated in this article focusing on the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.), the oasis “ecosystem engineer”. This assessment confronts different ontologies: diversity as expressed and maintained by the folk categorization system of the Siwa inhabitants (through the results of an ethnographical analysis) and diversity described by genetic sciences and a morphometric tool based on the size and geometry of the seeds. This work is also an opportunity to evaluate this tool intended for archaeobotany. Beyond a simple instrumentalization of one discipline by another, this study offers a space of mutual enrichment: on the relative importance of the feral and cultivated date palms, the local relevance of the concept of “cultivar” and the confirmation of the existence of “ethnovarieties”.
- In Siwa palm grove, a farmer harvesting some dates in his garden (Aghurmi, Siwa Oasis, Egypt), 15th Nov. 2014