The contribution of archaeological plant remains in tracing the cultural history of Mediterranean trees: The example of the Roman harbour of Neapolis

Silvio Fici, Gaetano Di Pasquale, Emilia Allevato, Antonio Saracino

Risultato della ricerca: Articlepeer review

9 Citazioni (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, we present a detailed record of the plant remains recovered on the palaeo-seafloors of Neapolis harbour, spanning ≈700 years, between the2nd century BC and the 5th century AD, thus intersecting the entire Roman Imperial Age. The site preserved many cultivated or cultivable plant remains,especially from food related trees. This particular feature provided the opportunity to reconstruct the puzzling history of planting them and the Romaneconomy, especially with respect to food production, the market and to dietary habits. The evidence suggests that Prunus persica, Castanea sativa, Juglansregia and Pinus pinea were locally grown all along the investigated period, testifying for a well advanced arboriculture. A broad presence of P. pinea conescould be related to their large use as stoppers for amphorae which probably was among the driving force for planting it actually influencing its originalrange. The seafarers had extensive access to dry fruit such as walnut, hazelnut and chestnut that for its imperishable nature and the high energy density,would probably have been part of the food-stocks of the galleys. Chestnut consumption, attested throughout the entire period in the harbour, representsthe first strong archaeobotanical evidence of chestnut as food in the Western Mediterranean in Roman time. This evidence shed light on the cultural-socialsignificance of these fruits that was probably eaten mainly or almost exclusively by low social classes. The exceptional find of Hyphaene thebaica for thefirst time outside its native range is also reported.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)603-613
Numero di pagine11
RivistaTHE HOLOCENE
Volume26
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology

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