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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Crop diversity and choices in the prehistory of SE Europe: the archaeobotanical evidence from Greece and Bulgaria

Marinova Elena and Valamoti Soultana-Maria (2014)

Crop diversity and choices in the prehistory of SE Europe: the archaeobotanical evidence from Greece and Bulgaria

EARTH (Chevalier, A., Marinova, E., Pena-Cocharro, L. (eds.) (eds.) Plants and People: choices and diversity through time), 1:64-74.

The paper outlines a general pattern regarding crops and their diversity in northern Greece and Bulgaria, and set our observations in relation, where possible, to other areas of the Balkans. Although at present our body of data is not uniformly rich and reliable for comparisons between different periods within the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to be made, it has been possible to roughly draw a picture of crops for these two broad periods and to compare the archaeobotanical evidence between certain parts of southeastern Europe. Thus, several common trends have been identified or re-confirmed, such as the predominance of the glume wheats, the important role of pulses, the clear visibility of flax and the introduction of various crops during the Bronze Age, probably through cultural contacts. At the same time, several interesting differences are beginning to emerge and in the future would be worth exploring further on the basis of more archaeobotanical data: the predominance of einkorn in certain parts of Bulgaria and in many sites of northern Greece, the appearance of free-threshing wheat as a crop on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria during the Chalcolithic, the presence of chickpea in the later phases of the Early Neolithic of southern Bulgaria, the absence of Celtic bean and millet in the Neolithic in both regions, and the total absence of a wide range of crops encountered in Greece during the Bronze Age, in particular oil, medicinal and hallucinogenic plants. It is evident that many crops are common in this part of southeastern Europe, shared among the different cultures for a considerable length of time. At the same time, certain areas are slightly different and in the future we need to consider the broader cultural context and environments of these areas to understand divergences in the crop pattern. Such observations would also greatly benefit from a consideration of a wide range of environmental factors, particular to individual sites or regions, which may have interacted with human choices as regards the crops on which they relied. Moreover, independent information from palaeoclimate proxies (as, for example, the δ13C measurements) and models could help us to clarify climate-driven change in crop diversity.
Néolithique, âge de Bronze, Archéologie : Préhistoire

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