Pistachio Country

The area of the ancient city of Doliche is very fertile and used for agricultural purposes today. Accordingly, our excavation areas are surrounded by dozens of small fields, and when we are digging our neighbours are busy on their fields, too. The main crops are grapes, pistachios, figs, and olives, but there are also other fruits and nuts, like cherries, walnuts, and almonds. August and September are the main harvest season. Having a large variety of fresh fruits available daily is one of the perks of fieldwork in Doliche.

The most famous crop of the region is pistachios. They count among the best pistachios of the world and are the key ingredient of baklava, a pastry made of layers of filo filled with pistachios. Baklava is a popular dessert in most countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East, but the baklava of Gaziantep stands out for its supreme quality and is world-famous. This is not least due to the exceptional quality of the pistachios. They are harvested by hand in late August and early September.

The most ubiquitous cultivated plants in ancient Doliche are grapevines. The mode of cultivation is very peculiar. The canes grow close to the ground. Thereby, the grapes are exposed to the heat of the soil and ripen faster. After the harvest, they are either spread out on the ground to dry and become raisins, or they are boiled into Pekmez, a thick and sweet grape syrup. If you can find it, try it out! It is delicious and very healthy.

Very delicious are the figs that grow abundantly in the fields. On a hot summer afternoon, eating some figs from one of the many trees is very refreshing. Later in the season, the harvest of walnuts starts.

Some crop plants grow wild, like sumac. The fruits, which are sour, but very refreshing, are usually dried and ground into a spice that is popular in the Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern cuisine. Another plant that populates the city area is caper shrubs. The thorny bushes have beautiful flowers with white petals. The people from the village do not make use of the caper buds and caper berries. However, it seems that the modern name of the hill, Keber Tepe, means Caper Hill, referring to the many caper shrubs.

by Michael Blömer

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