Archaeobotany and Domestication
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Archaeobotany and Domestication
Crop origins evidence from archaeology and botany
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The Early Neolithic in the Iberian Peninsula and the Western Mediterranean: A Review of the Evidence on Migration - Springer

The Early Neolithic in the Iberian Peninsula and the Western Mediterranean: A Review of the Evidence on Migration - Springer | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

The first use of domestic plants and animals in the Western Mediterranean has been a matter of debate, since there are no native ancestors for these elements. The current paradigmatic position favors an introduction by human migrants who reached southern France and the Iberian Peninsula through seafaring. The settlers would have introduced the whole economic and cultural Neolithic background. This paper reviews some of the available archaeological, paleobiological and chronological evidence for the Early Neolithic in the Western Mediterranean, and specifically the Iberian Peninsula, and its use by those who support migration.

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High-throughput sequencing of ancient plant and mammal DNA preserved in herbivore middens

High-throughput sequencing of ancient plant and mammal DNA preserved in herbivore middens | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Quaternary Science Reviews - The study of arid palaeoenvironments is often frustrated by the poor or non-existent preservation of plant and animal material, yet these environments are of considerable environmental importance. The analysis of pollen and macrofossils isolated from herbivore middens has been an invaluable source of information regarding past environments and the nature of ecological fluctuations within arid zones. The application of ancient DNA (aDNA) techniques to hot, arid zone middens remains unexplored. This paper attempts to retrieve and characterise aDNA from four Southern Hemisphere fossil middens; three located in hot, arid regions of Australia and one sample from South Africa's Western Cape province. The middens are dated to between 30,490 (±380) and 710 (±70) cal yr BP. The Brockman Ridge midden in this study is potentially the oldest sample from which aDNA has been successfully extracted in Australia. The application of high-throughput sequencing approaches to profile the biotic remains preserved in midden material has not been attempted to date and this study clearly demonstrates the potential of such a methodology. In addition to the taxa previously detected via macrofossil and palynological analyses, aDNA analysis identified unreported plant and animal taxa, some of which are locally extinct or endemic. The survival and preservation of DNA in hot, arid environments is a complex and poorly understood process that is both sporadic and rare, but the survival of DNA through desiccation may be important. Herbivore middens now present an important source of material for DNA metabarcoding studies of hot, arid palaeoenvironments and can potentially be used to analyse middens in these environments throughout Australia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East.

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The genesis of irrigated terraces in al-Andalus. A geoarchaeological perspective on intensive agriculture in semi-arid environments (Ricote, Murci...

The genesis of irrigated terraces in al-Andalus. A geoarchaeological perspective on intensive agriculture in semi-arid environments (Ricote, Murci... | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

ScienceDirect.com - Journal of Arid Environments -► We study a soil buried under an Andalusi irrigated terrace in Ricote (Murcia). ► We estimate that the original hydraulic system was built shortly after 711 AD. ► We propose semi-arid environmental conditions prior to terrace building. ► Terrace construction process may have involved fire clearance. ► Arab-Berber tribes modified semi-arid terrains to allow intensive agriculture.

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Analysis of the bread wheat genome using whole-genome shotgun sequencing : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

Analysis of the bread wheat genome using whole-genome shotgun sequencing : Nature : Nature Publishing Group | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a globally important crop, accounting for 20 per cent of the calories consumed by humans. Major efforts are underway worldwide to increase wheat production by extending genetic diversity and analysing key traits, and genomic resources can accelerate progress. But so far the very large size and polyploid complexity of the bread wheat genome have been substantial barriers to genome analysis. Here we report the sequencing of its large, 17-gigabase-pair, hexaploid genome using 454 pyrosequencing, and comparison of this with the sequences of diploid ancestral and progenitor genomes. We identified between 94,000 and 96,000 genes, and assigned two-thirds to the three component genomes (A, B and D) of hexaploid wheat. High-resolution synteny maps identified many small disruptions to conserved gene order. We show that the hexaploid genome is highly dynamic, with significant loss of gene family members on polyploidization and domestication, and an abundance of gene fragments. Several classes of genes involved in energy harvesting, metabolism and growth are among expanded gene families that could be associated with crop productivity. Our analyses, coupled with the identification of extensive genetic variation, provide a resource for accelerating gene discovery and improving this major crop.

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A physical, genetic and functional sequence assembly of the barley genome : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

A physical, genetic and functional sequence assembly of the barley genome : Nature : Nature Publishing Group | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is among the world’s earliest domesticated and most important crop plants. It is diploid with a large haploid genome of 5.1 gigabases (Gb). Here we present an integrated and ordered physical, genetic and functional sequence resource that describes the barley gene-space in a structured whole-genome context. We developed a physical map of 4.98 Gb, with more than 3.90 Gb anchored to a high-resolution genetic map. Projecting a deep whole-genome shotgun assembly, complementary DNA and deep RNA sequence data onto this framework supports 79,379 transcript clusters, including 26,159 ‘high-confidence’ genes with homology support from other plant genomes. Abundant alternative splicing, premature termination codons and novel transcriptionally active regions suggest that post-transcriptional processing forms an important regulatory layer. Survey sequences from diverse accessions reveal a landscape of extensive single-nucleotide variation. Our data provide a platform for both genome-assisted research and enabling contemporary crop improvement.

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Seed heads / seed pods / berries

Seed heads / seed pods / berries | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

The beautry og seeds and fruits. This is a flckr group that collectes photos of plants' seed heads, pods, berries that remain after flowering...

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Ancient Butterball | The Scientist Magazine®

Ancient Butterball | The Scientist Magazine® | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

The star of Thanksgiving was domesticated by Mayans 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. In a Mayan archeological site in Guatemala, researchers found remains of domesticated Turkey dating to between 300 B.C. and 100 A.D., according to a study published earlier this year (August 8) in PLOS ONE. The results are surprising because Mayans weren’t known for domesticating animals—just plants—and because it means the domestic turkey is 1,000 years older than previously thought.

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Fruit Seeds of Southern Michigan: Index

Fruit Seeds of Southern Michigan: Index | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

some useful images.

Some other seed images sites to add to my links eventually:

http://nt.ars-grin.gov/seedsfruits/keys/fabaceae/index.cfm

http://nt.ars-grin.gov/SeedsFruits/rptSeedsFruitsFam.cfm

 

 

 

 

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Isotopic evidence for an early shift to C4 resources by Pliocene hominins in Chad

Isotopic evidence for an early shift to C4 resources by Pliocene hominins in Chad | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Foods derived from C4 plants were important in the dietary ecology of early Pleistocene hominins in southern and eastern Africa, but the origins and geographic variability of this relationship remain unknown. Carbon isotope data show that Australopithecus bahrelghazali individuals from Koro Toro in Chad are significantly enriched in 13C, indicating a dependence on C4 resources. As these sites are over 3 million years in age, the results extend the pattern of C4 dependence seen in Paranthropus boisei in East Africa by more than 1.5 million years. The Koro Toro hominin fossils were found in argillaceous sandstone levels along with abundant grazing and aquatic faunal elements that, in combination, indicate the presence of open to wooded grasslands and stream channels associated with a greatly enlarged Lake Chad. In such an environment, the most abundant C4 plant resources available to A. bahrelghazali were grasses and sedges, neither of which is usually considered as standard great ape fare. The results suggest an early and fundamental shift in hominin dietary ecology that facilitated the exploitation of new habitats.

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Evaluating prehistoric finds of Arrhenatherum elatius var. bulbosum in north-western and central Europe with an emphasis on the first Neolithic finds in Northern Germany

Evaluating prehistoric finds of Arrhenatherum elatius var. bulbosum in north-western and central Europe with an emphasis on the first Neolithic finds in Northern Germany | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

The swollen basal internodes of the grass species Arrhenatherum elatius var. bulbosum (tuber oat grass) are recorded here for the first time for Neolithic Germany. These charred bulbs occurred in the Late Neolithic soil mantle of the megalithic tomb of Albersdorf-Brutkamp LA 5. They are interpreted as most probably originating from the natural vegetation on and around the grave mound. The bulbs were possibly charred in the course of a ritual fire. However, their use as gathered plants and their intentional deposition in a secondary burial ritual during the Late Neolithic cannot be excluded with any certainty. Identification criteria for Arrhenatherum bulbs as well as the ecological requirements of the species are introduced here. Furthermore, prehistoric bulb finds from north-western and central Europe, and different interpretations concerning the occurrence of Arrhenatherum in different archaeological contexts, are discussed. The compilation of finds from literature and excavation reports shows that bulbs of Arrhenatherum were found rather infrequently in the Neolithic. Most commonly, charred bulbs of A. elatius var. bulbosum are detected in Bronze Age cremation graves. In the Iron Age, however, they mainly occur in domestic sites. This shows that the interpretation of the plant remains is dependent on their archaeological context. A ritual meaning of the bulbs has to be considered in the interpretation, but they may also have contributed to people’s daily diet. This evaluation of bulb finds in prehistoric and historic contexts contributes to the debate on the relevance of plant gathering in early economies and in ritual activities.

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Vernacular names for African millets and other minor cereals and their significance for agricultural history

Vernacular names for African millets and other minor cereals and their significance for agricultural history | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Apart from the well-known cereals such as sorghum and millet, Africa has a number of small millets, notably fonio, iburu, ṭef and Paspalum scrobiculatum which are poorly represented in the archaeobotanical record. The fragmented distribution of fonio suggests that it was formerly more widely cultivated. The paper uses the patterns discerned in vernacular names to explore their history. Fonio is the most widely distributed and its vernacular names fall into two significant subgroups, in the Mande/Atlantic area of West Africa and in Central Nigeria. Iburu names are only recorded for Nigeria, although there is another region of cultivation in the Atakora mountains in Benin. Names for ṭef are extremely similar throughout the Ethiopian region, suggesting that the crop has been dispersed by a dominant culture, probably the Ethiosemitic speakers, perhaps as part of the diffusion of seed/plough agriculture. The paper calls for further more detailed research on these important and neglected species.

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Medieval emergence of sweet melons, Cucumis melo (Cucurbitaceae)

Medieval emergence of sweet melons, Cucumis melo (Cucurbitaceae) | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

While melons were familiar in antiquity, they were grown mostly for use of the young fruits, which are similar in appearance and taste to cucumbers, C. sativus....Findings: Medieval lexicographies and an illustrated Arabic translation of Dioscorides' herbal suggest that sweet melons were present in Central Asia in the mid-9th century. A travelogue description indicates the presence of sweet melons in Khorasan and Persia by the mid-10th century. Agricultural literature from Andalusia documents the growing of sweet melons, evidently casabas (Inodorous Group), there by the second half of the 11th century, which probably arrived from Central Asia as a consequence of Islamic conquest, trade and agricultural development. Climate and geopolitical boundaries were the likely causes of the delay in the spread of sweet melons into the rest of Europe.

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Neolithic occupation of an artesian spring: KS043 in the Kharga O...

Neolithic occupation of an artesian spring: KS043 in the Kharga O... | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Highlight: Fifth millennium BC pastoral Neolithic sites in the western desert of Egypt, which has yielded some emmer wheat and Clarias fish bones, both of which are resources that must have been acquired in the Nile valley where cultivation and fishing would have been possible.... 

 

Official ingentaconnect Abstract: KS043 is a stratified site associated with a complex of artesian springs. The archaeological remains, as well as a series of radiocarbon determinations, date the site to between 4800 and 4200 b.c. Our study suggests a connection between Saharan pastoralists, forced to move into oasis areas by increasing aridification, and the first Predynastic cultures of the Nile Valley. The site is the only well dated stratified settlement attributed to the Late Neolithic in the eastern Sahara that is characterized by Tasian cultural traditions.

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Roman food refuse: urban archaeobotany in Pompeii, Regio VI, Insula 1 - Online First - Springer

Roman food refuse: urban archaeobotany in Pompeii, Regio VI, Insula 1 - Online First - Springer | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Although world-renowned as an archaeological site, there have been few research projects in Pompeii looking at the spatial and chronological patterning of plant food use from an archaeobotanical perspective. The recent 12 years of archaeological excavations (1995–2006) by the Anglo-American Project in Pompeii have provided a rare opportunity to investigate a whole city block (Regione VI, Insula 1). This included a blanket sampling strategy of all contexts where archaeobotanical macro-remains, both carbonised and calcium phosphate replaced material, have been recovered, the results from which are reported here. The low density scatters of recurrent taxa from the majority of contexts examined in this study suggest that they were composed of table waste and kitchen food preparation waste and represent an expected ‘background noise’ of Roman cooking and consumption. This includes the standard ‘Mediterranean package’ of olives, grapes, figs, cereals and pulses. The general lack of evidence for crop-processing within the insula suggests that this was probably carried out elsewhere, probably within the city’s hinterland. These results support the established view that Pompeii was a fully urbanised city in the 1st century b.c. There appears to be an increase in olive consumption in the 1st century a.d., which may be suggested to correlate with ‘Romanisation’ and an increase in olive growing in the region.

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Archaeology News : Cheers! One of world's earliest 'micro-breweries ...

Archaeology News : Cheers! One of world's earliest 'micro-breweries ... | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
Archaeology Press Releases and Archaeological News : Archaeologists working in Western Cyprus are raising a glass to the discovery of a Bronze Age 'micro-brewery', one of the earliest ever found.
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Natural variation in a homolog of Antirrhinum CENTRORADIALIS contributed to spring growth habit and environmental adaptation in cultivated barley

Natural variation in a homolog of Antirrhinum CENTRORADIALIS contributed to spring growth habit and environmental adaptation in cultivated barley | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Published in Nature Genetics 18 Nov. 2012. As early farming spread from the Fertile Crescent in the Near East around 10,000 years before the present1, domesticated crops encountered considerable ecological and environmental change. Spring-sown crops that flowered without the need for an extended period of cold to promote flowering and day length–insensitive crops able to exploit the longer, cooler days of higher latitudes emerged and became established. To investigate the genetic consequences of adaptation to these new environments, we identified signatures of divergent selection in the highly differentiated modern-day spring and winter barleys. In one genetically divergent region, we identify a natural variant of the barley homolog of Antirrhinum CENTRORADIALIS2 (HvCEN) as a contributor to successful environmental adaptation. The distribution of HvCEN alleles in a large collection of wild and landrace accessions indicates that this involved selection and enrichment of preexisting genetic variants rather than the acquisition of mutations after domestication. Link: http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v44/n12/full/ng.2447.html

 

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Old World globalization and the Columbian exchange: comparison and contrast

Old World globalization and the Columbian exchange: comparison and contrast | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

A recent paper by Jones et al. (Food globalization in prehistory, World Archaeology, 2011, 43(4), 665–75) explores a prehistoric ‘Trans-Eurasian’ episode of food globalization characterized by the long-distance exchange of starch crops. Drawing upon a comparison to the Columbian Exchange, they emphasize the role of fast-growing crops in optimizing productivity, giving minimal consideration to other drivers. Here we re-evaluate the sequence and timing of the Trans-Eurasian exchange and give greater consideration to the social dimensions of plant translocation. We outline a model for thinking about plant translocations that highlights the way the conceptualization and use of introduced plants changes through time, with social factors frequently dominating in the early stages.

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, December 15, 2012 12:20 PM

updated data, and debates, relating to when Chinese millets left China, wheat and barley arrived in China, and the spread of buckwheat. Plus some ideas for conceptualizing the social conext of food crop translocations.

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In the footsteps of Darwin: pigs DNA sheds light on evolution and selection | ERC: European Research Council

In the footsteps of Darwin: pigs DNA sheds light on evolution and selection | ERC: European Research Council | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
These two research studies demonstrate the benefits of basic genomic research on agricultural animals and their closest living relatives.

Published in Nature, the first study focuses on the changes that have accumulated in the genome of the pig during its speciation in Eurasia and during its subsequent domestication and selection by humans. An international team of researchers compared the genome of a common farm pig, Sus scrofa domesticus, with those of ten wild boars – all from different parts of Europe and Asia. They also analysed the pig genome in parallel with those of the human, mouse, dog, horse and cow. Comparisons of Asian and European wild boars revealed significant genetic differences, which are the result of their separating from one another roughly one million years ago.

The study published in PNAS analyses more specifically what genes and regions of the porcine genome have been changed during the 10,000 years of domestication and selection of this animal. The European team of researchers identified three loci that affect one of the most striking morphological changes in the domestic pig – the elongation of the back and the increased number of vertebrae. This important change had already been observed and described by Charles Darwin in his book The variation of animals and plants under domestication.

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30,000-Year-Old Wild Flax Fibers

[published in 2009]

 

A unique finding of wild flax fibers from a series of Upper Paleolithic layers at Dzudzuana Cave, located in the foothills of the Caucasus, Georgia, indicates that prehistoric hunter-gatherers were making cords for hafting stone tools, weaving baskets, or sewing garments. Radiocarbon dates demonstrate that the cave was inhabited intermittently during several periods dated to 32 to 26 thousand years before the present (kyr B.P.), 23 to 19 kyr B.P., and 13 to 11 kyr B.P. Spun, dyed, and knotted flax fibers are common. Apparently, climatic fluctuations recorded in the cave’s deposits did not affect the growth of the plants because a certain level of humidity was sustained.

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Synthesis between demic and cultural diffusion in the Neolithic transition in Europe

Synthesis between demic and cultural diffusion in the Neolithic transition in Europe | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

There is a long-standing controversy between two models of the Neolithic transition. The demic model assumes that the Neolithic range expansion was mainly due to the spread of populations, and the cultural model considers that it was essentially due to the spread of ideas. Here we integrate the demic and cultural models in a unified framework. We show that cultural diffusion explains ∼40% of the spread rate of the Neolithic transition in Europe, as implied by archaeological data. Thus, cultural diffusion cannot be neglected, but demic diffusion was the most important mechanism in this major historical process at the continental scale. This quantitative approach can be useful also in regional analysis, the description of Neolithic transitions in other continents, and models of many human spread phenomena.

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The Archaic Diet in Mesoamerica: Incentive for Milpa Development and Species Domestication

The Archaic Diet in Mesoamerica: Incentive for Milpa Development and Species Domestication | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

 One of the central questions in the development of Mesoamerican civilization is how the alimentary, agronomic, and ecological complementarities were achieved within the milpa agroecosystem, which is one of its more important and distinctive cultural elements. In the Mesoamerican center of origin of agriculture and domestication of plants, located in western Mexico, we inquired among Náhuatl communities about the ancient dishes prepared with wild plants that are part of their ancient foodways, and the tools and technology used to prepare them. We found that the wild progenitors of Agave spp., Zea mays L, Cucurbita argyrosperma Hort. Ex L.H. Bayley, Phaseolus spp., Capsicum annum L., Solanum lycopersicum L., Physalis phyladelphica Lam, Spondias purpurea L., Persea americana Mill., and Hyptis suaveolens (L.) Poit are consumed in dishes that remain in the present food culture of the poor peasants, and are prepared with techniques and tools that were available in the Archaic period: Sun drying, roasting, toasting, baking, cracking, grinding, crushing, fermenting, and soaking in plain water or in water with ash, using three–stone fireplaces, stone toasters, crushers, grinders, rock pits, and three types of earth ovens. A remarkable finding was that beans could be incorporated into the diet without boiling, but just by toasting, stone grinding, and baking in corn dough tamales. Results obtained suggest that the basic Mesoamerican diet could have been shaped before the species involved were domesticated. Its nutritional complementarity since the Archaic period could have been one of the incentives for the development of the milpa system and the domestication of its species, achieving in this way also their ecological and agronomical complementarity.

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PLOS ONE: Present Spatial Diversity Patterns of Theobroma cacao L. in the Neotropics Reflect Genetic Differentiation in Pleistocene Refugia Followed by Human-Influenced Dispersal

PLOS ONE: Present Spatial Diversity Patterns of Theobroma cacao L. in the Neotropics Reflect Genetic Differentiation in Pleistocene Refugia Followed by Human-Influenced Dispersal | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) is indigenous to the Amazon basin, but is generally believed to have been domesticated in Mesoamerica for the production of chocolate beverage. However, cacao’s distribution of genetic diversity in South America is also likely to reflect pre-Columbian human influences that were superimposed on natural processes of genetic differentiation. Here we present the results of a spatial analysis of the intra-specific diversity of cacao in Latin America, drawing on a dataset of 939 cacao trees genotypically characterized by means of 96 SSR markers. To assess continental diversity patterns we performed grid-based calculations of allelic richness, Shannon diversity and Nei gene diversity, and distinguished different spatially coherent genetic groups by means of cluster analysis. The highest levels of genetic diversity were observed in the Upper Amazon areas from southern Peru to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the border areas between Colombia, Peru and Brazil. On the assumption that the last glaciation (22,000–13,000 BP) had the greatest pre-human impact on the current distribution and diversity of cacao, we modeled the species’ Pleistocene niche suitability and overlaid this with present-day diversity maps. The results suggest that cacao was already widely distributed in the Western Amazon before the onset of glaciation. During glaciations, cacao populations were likely to have been restricted to several refugia where they probably underwent genetic differentiation, resulting in a number of genetic clusters which are representative for, or closest related to, the original wild cacao populations. The analyses also suggested that genetic differentiation and geographical distribution of a number of other clusters seem to have been significantly affected by processes of human management and accompanying genetic bottlenecks. We discuss the implications of these results for future germplasm collection and in situ, on farm and ex situ conservation of cacao.

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Oscar Valverde's curator insight, March 1, 2015 11:35 PM

For chocolate lovers

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The Use and Economic Value of Manna grass (Glyceria) in Poland from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century

The Use and Economic Value of Manna grass (Glyceria) in Poland from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Human Ecology, Volume 40, Number 5 - SpringerLink

 

Manna grass (mainly but not exclusively G. fluitans) used to be widely gathered in most lowland areas of the present territory of Poland and western and southern Belarus. It had an important function as a component of tribute paid to local landowners by villagers, which led to the persistence of manna gathering even when this was not sustainable for peasants themselves. Manna grass was always an expensive food due to its time consuming gathering, but appreciated for its sweet taste and often served as dessert. In the nineteenth century marshes shrank significantly and the payment of tribute disappeared from the local economy, which gradually led to the total abandonment of Glyceria use around 1914. This article provides a detailed overview of Glyceria use as food within the borders of the former Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom (now Poland, Lithuania, western Belarus and western Ukraine) based on archaeobotanical, historical and ethnographic sources. The evidence for the continued use of manna since at least medieval times is abundant in historical accounts and ethnographic studies, but little has been reported in archaeobotanical findings due to the relatively small amounts of Glyceria consumed.

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