The Palace of Minos at Knossos, vol. For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription. J
Being scented with exotic perfumes would have been an almost unconscious message to all who inhaled the aroma of the wearer’s social status (Murphy, 2013).
All rights reserved. and myrrh (Commiphora sp.). Day
Fruits, vegetables, pulses and condiments. Jashemski’s work at Pompeii has identified commercial gardens within the city, most likely where flowers for the perfume industry were grown, and inscriptions from the town even provide the names of two perfume makers or unguentarii, M. Decidius Fastus and Phoebus (Jashemski, 1979). Successfully growing captured foreign species can be seen as a reflection of the rulers’ authority over the natural world and a justification of their right to rule (Day, 2010). D
It is in the context of ritual activity, therefore, that use of psychotropics in Classical Antiquity should be explored. A
3), represent a lack of knowledge, wilful ignorance in the name of spectacular composition, or represent a mythical landscape? One of the most important agricultural commodities listed in these clay tablets was saffron, a valuable spice derived from crocuses (Crocus sativus or Crocus cartwrightianus) (Day, 2011a) (Fig. Phytoliths can also be recovered from artefacts, showing, for example, whether a quern was used primarily for cereals or tubers (Wilkinson and Stevens, 2008). . Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) has been identified as a pigment in frescoes at the Mycenaean site of Thebes (Brysbaert and Vandenabeele, 2004). The palaeoethnobotanical approach. Murray
The author thanks her colleagues Aude Doody and Grant Couper for assistance with ancient literary references, Conor Trainor for his feedback on a draft of this article, and Lars Hennig for the invitation to contribute. S
Stone press weights and press beds are the main remains identified through archaeological fieldwork, again complemented by a range of images on ceramics (Foxhall, 2007). A
Polypus and the poppy: two unusual rhyta from the Mycenaean cemetery at Mochlos.
2) gave way to more realistic flowers in Late Minoan times before a return to stylized flowers once more in later Mycenaean art. The medical tablets from the library at Nineveh are filled with lists of plants used in healing, as well as the incantations needed to cure the sick. Unfortunately, the demand seems to have led to overharvesting, and silphium became extinct during the Roman period, the last stem apparently sent to Emperor Nero. It is both the science and the art of recovering, identifying, and interpreting how plant remains were used in … P
In contrast to other types of botanical remains, plant matter from coprolites is a reasonably secure indicator of plants that were consumed and defecated by humans, especially if the remains come from latrines, mummy intestines, or burials (Reinhard and Bryant, 1992). When we talk about culture, we mean the behavior and beliefs of groups of people.
. The emphasis is on the Classical world of ancient Greece and Rome and their Bronze Age forerunners, as well as Egypt and the Near East, although palaeobotanical remains and the social practices they represent occur across the world.
found in the late Bronze Age Ulu Burun shipwreck, off the coast of Turkey, were most likely for use in aromatics (Haldane, 1993).
Known as ‘Hawkes’ ladder of inference’ after the originator of the concept, it relegated palaeobotanical studies (amongst other scientific analyses) to exploring mainly economic prehistory (Trigger, 1989). This category includes charcoal, carbonised or charred seeds, shells, and grains, root casts, impressions on clay, mineralized and petrified remains, and coprolites (mineralized or dessicated faeces). Kaufman
Late Bronze Age wine pressing assemblage at Vathypetro, Crete. An inscription of king Tiglath-Pileser I (1114–1076 bc) records: ‘I took cedar, box tree, Kanish oak from the lands over which I had gained dominion – such trees which none among previous kings, my forefathers, had ever planted – and I planted [them] in the orchards of my land’ (Kuhrt, 1995). A review on the materials used during the mummification processes in ancient Egypt, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry. Margaritis
Some scholars believe that ergot (Claviceps purpurea), a parasite that grows on cereals, was added to wine to give believers a more intense experience of religious awe (Wasson et al., 1978). Journal of the International Plato Society, Environmental change in Crete: a 9000-year record of Holocene vegetation history and the effect of the Santorini eruption, The production of perfumes in antiquity: the cases of Delos and Paestum, Bronze Age painted plaster in Mycenaean Greece: a pilot study on the testing and application of micro-Raman spectroscopy, The medical use of cannabis among the Greeks and Romans, A general study of Minoan frescoes with particular reference to unpublished wall paintings from Knossos, Botanic analysis of Livia’s villa painted flora (Prima Porta, Roma), Roman foodprints at Berenike: archaeobotanical evidence of subsistence and trade in the eastern desert of Egypt, Power, privilege and landscape in Minoan art, CHARIS: essays in honor of Sara A. Immerwahr, Hesperia, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Drug preparation in evidence? .
Botanists can give us all kinds of fascinating information about the things we recover.
This work described a thousand medicines, m… M
Booking: No booking required. Beans were prominent among agricultural products cited in tribute lists in pre-Hispanic times.
As with many traditional societies, the consumption of mind-altering plants would have been carried out within carefully controlled ritual circumstances, often by ritual specialists, rather than simply for individual pleasure. The fifth-century bc historian Herodotus described how cinnamon was collected in Arabia: the sticks were used by giant birds to make their nests and, rather than climb up to get the spice, human gatherers left animal carcasses on the ground, which the birds dragged up to their nests to eat; being too heavy, the nest then broke and the cinnamon sticks could be safely collected from the ground (Herodotus III, 110–111). Lucejko
Blend and heat. Butrica
Greg McKee, Museum Specialist in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution, says that understanding theories like DOS provides …
Watrous et al., 2004). Hadzi-Vallianou
Although the Mediterranean does not contain the same diversity of psychotropic plants that can be found in Amazonia, for example, there are still a number of species that can alter consciousness, especially members of the Solanaceae family (Schultes and Hofman, 1992; Merlin, 2003).
Ancient Egyptian materials and technology. absolute dating Ascertaining the age of an object with reference to a fixed and specific time scale (e.g. .
Archaeobotany is the study of plant remains from archaeological sites. Waterlogged plant remains from Roman London include a number of species with Mediterranean origins, such as peach (Prunus persica), dill (Anethum graveolens), and mulberry (Morus nigra) (Willcox, 1977).
Microfossils such as phytoliths and pollen need magnification to be visible and such studies are complemented by an increasing number of biomolecular studies. W
On site botanists use a basic and easy method to recover these remains. D
Four species have been important food plants the main dietary role of which has been as a complementary ammo acid source in combination with corn. RE
Botany as far as it is relevant in archaeology, mainly denotes all types of ancient organic material (in particular ancient plant remains) collected from excavation sites. Bryant
It is not expected that landscapes will have remained the same since human activity began, but understanding the diversity of species and ecological niches contributes towards a more holistic study of the region.
The rise too in archaeological interest in feasting and sensory experiences means that plant-derived substances are no longer viewed as merely calorie providers but facilitators of social dynamics and even of communication with divinities. Royal gardens in the ancient world were undoubtedly for the display of plants as statements of power and knowledge. DEFINITION: The study of botanical remains at archaeological sites. Agricultural tools and processing installations. walnuts (Juglans regia) and coriander (Coriandrum sativum)] and this wider availability is mirrored by their appearance in a wider range of civilian archaeological contexts as luxuries became daily foodstuffs (Bakels and Jacomet, 2003). This story was later dismissed by the encyclopaedist Pliny the Elder, who more accurately described cinnamon as coming from southeastern Asia via the ocean (Dalby, 2000). These charred seeds tend to come from plants that require processing prior to consumption (e.g. Williams
Studies of central Europe during Roman times have shown that some plant foods, like pomegranate (Punica granatum) and pistachio (Pistacia vera), are only found in military sites in probable officers’ dwellings (Bakels and Jacomet, 2003). Moody, 2005).
Preservation of botanical remains. Re: Etched Vase: How to Discover its Origins? . . Kolls
Interest in contemporary climate change and its effect on vegetation is reflected by an increasing recognition of the impact that environmental change would have had on ancient societies. Jo Day, Botany meets archaeology: people and plants in the past, Journal of Experimental Botany, Volume 64, Issue 18, December 2013, Pages 5805–5816, https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/ert068.
The manufacturing process is shown in a fresco from the House of Vettii, Pompeii, where cupids are involved in extracting oil from a wedge press and adding rose petals to a steeping basin, while nearby a lady tries some sample fragrances (Mattingly, 1990). Their appearance in Britain reflects both the occupying Romans’ wishes for tastes of home as well as the changing tastes of the native Britons.
. The deliberate study of the interrelationship between humans and plants and the environmental context in which this occurred has been called archaeobotany.
. Fragrance can be added either through indirectly heating the oil with aromatics in a water bath or through cold steeping of the aromatics (Theophrastus, V). Murray, 2000), including the dried flower garlands found in tombs such as that of Tutankhamun which included cornflowers (Centurea cyanis) and mayweed (Anthemis pseudocotula) (Hepper, 2009). Merlin
. . McGovern
Botany also relates to other scientific disciplines in many ways, especially to zoology, medicine, microbiology, agriculture, chemistry, forestry, and horticulture, and specialized areas of botanical information may relate closely to such humanistic fields as art, literature, history, religion, archaeology, sociology, and psychology. K
cereals), often performed near a hearth, as well as any weeds that were accidentally harvested (Wilkinson and Steven, 2008). . Animal and fish bones attest to the consumption of meat, and associated dairy practices can be gleaned from residue analysis, zooarchaeological remains, or texts. II.2. This demands learning to translate archaeological problems into paleobotanical research terms, and developing methods properly designed to the task(s) of resolving those problems. Gilbertson
However, the information that can be extracted from plant remains is usually more valuable. Trigger
Texts are hugely important in filling in the details about materia medica in the Classical world, but archaeology and iconography again provide complementary evidence. Gorham
The classification of the natural world rather than its cultivation was of interest to earlier Greek authors, and Aristotle wrote books on plant systematics over a millennium before Linnaeus developed the system still in use today. There, a spouted basin is set into a plastered platform; as the grapes were pressed within the basin, the juice ran into the collecting vessels placed on the floor below. . Flowers in Campania were also used to make garlands, essential to deck out animals for sacrifice, as well as for wearing at festivals and convivia, the dining parties of Roman elite.
Moreover, access to the exotic plant ingredients used to make some of the scents was an indicator of elite status in society; at Pylos, perfume manufacture was under the control of the wanax, the leader (Murphy, 2013), and Egyptian pharaohs wanted to control the incense trade. G
Plant material was also essential for building materials like timbers, roofs, mudbrick, and rope. J
Yet small and fragile plant remains can be every bit as valuable, if not more so, than these large, permanent structures in providing information about human life in the past. C
Botany as far as it is relevant in archaeology, mainly denotes all types of ancient organic material (in particular ancient plant remains) collected from excavation sites. Crocuses and lilies are two of the most prevalent species represented by Minoans, and rather than seeing them as simply nice decoration for vessels or walls, it is likely that the choice of motif was closely tied to the cultural and religious associations of these plants (Day, 2011b). Day. Basing on the recovery and identification of plant remains and the ecological and cultural information available for modern plants, the major research themes are the use of wild plants, the origins of agriculture and domestication , and the co-evolution of human-plant … F
ceramics, osteology, geology, and botany, as well as research technicians with highly specialized talents. M
Plants did not have to be eaten or made into perfume to bring prestige to those who owned them; often their display was enough.
Plants of the gods: their sacred, healing and hallucinogenic powers, Biomolecular and micromorphological analyis of suspected faecal deposits at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey, The Delphic oracle: a multidisciplinary defense of the gaseous vent theory, Mithridates’ antidote – a pharmacological ghost, Use of space in a Neolithic village in Greece (Makri): phytolith analysis and comparison of phytolith assemblages from an ethnographic setting in the same area, Minoans and Mycenaeans: flavours of their time, Myrtos: an Early Bronze Age settlement in Crete, The road to Eleusis: unveiling the secret of the mysteries, The plain of Phaistos: cycles of social complexity in the Mesara region of Crete, Plant remains as indicators of economic activity: a case study from Iron Age Ashkelon, Environmental archaeology: approaches, techniques and applications, Exotic plants from Roman waterlogged sites in London, Hair in toxicology: an important bio-monitor, © The Author . M
This section moves on from considering the types of remains that archaeologists use to elucidate information about the roles of plants in the ancient world to the broader research questions about both daily life and special events that can be approached through this information. Beyond the specifics of human diet, the remains of food plants can be used to learn about wider social practices associated with food production and consumption. It is also possible to recover pollen from coprolites, complementing the information on general vegetation cover with details about animal grazing or fodder practices, as well as human diet – even including whether plant matter was cooked (Hunt et al., 2001).
. Other ceramic evidence for aromatic production can be seen in the traces of oil of iris that were identified through residue analysis of vessels from c.2000 bc from Chamalevri on Crete (Tzedakis and Martlew, 2002). Mineralized plant remains are rare, requiring a special set of conditions for their creation, whereby dissolved minerals replace the plant cellular structure or encase the remains, such as caves or rock shelters (Hansen, 2001) and cesspits (Wilkinson and Stevens, 2008). C
This trade route that brought eastern spices into the Roman Empire was hugely important.
Dishes tend to be covered in sauces made from numerous spices, such as this example which is for a roast flamingo: ‘In a mortar, mix pepper, lovage, celery seed, fried sesame seed, parsley, mint, dried onion, and dates.
Your comment will be reviewed and published at the journal's discretion. The identification of any botanical remains is dependent on analogies with modern flora and with archaeological reference collections (Dincauze, 2000). . Box 4. Dincauze
For this reason microbotanical remains are always laboratory tested while macrobotanical remains can be assessed in the field but are usually also tested in the laboratory. A
The best source of Roman recipes is Apicius, compiled most probably in the fourth or fifth century ad. Theophrastus describes in some detail the methods and ingredients for producing perfumed oils in his time (fourth or third century bc) in his book On odours. C
Plants were also essential for making dyes. .
Other indicators of the poppy’s early use can be found on Crete, including the terracotta ‘Gazi goddess’, who has incised poppy capsules in her headdress, and the ceramic globular vessels (rhyta) from Mochlos with incisions and painted scars (Nicgorski, 1999; Merlin, 2003). Nails, lips, and even ears may have been coloured from as far back as the Bronze Age; frescoes from Akrotiri show red and orange tinted body parts on many of the women depicted there, perhaps achieved with saffron or henna (Day, 2011b). Domestication of many crops can be followed through comparing changing seed or stone morphology with modern wild and cultivated samples (e.g. . It now seems possible to isolate plant DNA from inside ceramic vessels producing a more accurate picture of their contents and hence of ancient trade: Classical amphoras from Chios yielded DNA of olive (Olea europaea), oregano (Origanum vulgare), and an unspecified Pistacia species (Hansson and Foley, 2008). Ciaraldi
Capers, the edible flower bud of Capparis spinosa, were probably consumed although archaeobotanical remains are of the seeds rather than the buds (Megaloudi, 2006). Kislev
For example, a study of the phytoliths from surfaces in the Neolithic village of Makri in northern Greece indicates the settlement was inhabited all year long and engaged in cereal farming and pastoralism, as well as helping identify areas for crop processing (Tsartsidou et al., 2009).
Within archaeology, it was a popular belief that questions relating to economy and technology could better be approached through material remains than those that deal with ideology or ritual. P
Vegetation burning and grazing can also be identified in the pollen record, furthering the understanding of prehistoric land management practices (Atherden, 2000). Yucca, Agave, Opuntia, Cucurbita spp.) In the Late Bronze Age, scented oils were traded all around the Mediterranean in ceramic stirrup jars. Shelmerdine
Unexpected Treasures: Archaeology and Botany - A talk by Ruth Pelling. Various chemical tests later seemed to confirm opium as the contents, although this remains debated (for details, see Collard, 2011).
. . Several themes have been selected as especially pertinent to flowers: diet and palaeoeconomy; medicine, poison, and psychotropics; perfumes, cosmetics, and dyes; prestige. F
. Archaeology And Botany Research Inc.is an Arizona Non-Profit filed on September 15, 2005. MP
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Caper flowers were depicted in Minoan frescoes from Knossos and Ayia Triada, perhaps hinting at Bronze Age consumption too (Cameron, 1975; Chapin, 2004). Thousands of peppercorns were recovered on site, including 7.5kg in a storage jar, highlighting the scale of the spice trade between India and the Roman Empire (Cappers, 2006). Pout over the flamingo and serve’ (Apicius VI.6). Read about the latest archaelogical finds including Roman coins, Egyptian pyramids and more. L-M
Reading such a list highlights one of the main problems when working with ancient texts – translating the names of plants can be extremely problematic. In Italy, it was the Campanian region that was famed for aromatics, especially rose-scented perfume. Interestingly, pulses are never recorded in Linear B, although palaeobotany has proven that they were an integral part of diet in the Late Bronze Age (Sarpaki, 1992). It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide, This PDF is available to Subscribers Only. Psychotropic use of plants in the Classical World is little studied, perhaps partly because of a scholarly reluctance to ascribe ‘drug taking’ to the cultures that are seen as the origins of Western civilization. Dept. Say I am digging a site where some people lived 4,600 years ago. The stylized plant-like motifs of Middle Bronze Age Kamares ware pottery (Fig. Egyptian pharaohs also bought into this idea of capturing plants, and Tuthmosis III had the plants he brought back from his Syrian campaigns depicted on the walls at Karnak for all to see (Schwaller de Lubicz, 1999). Archaeology is more associated with the discovery of tombs and ancient human remains than with plants.
Paleoethnobotany is the study of relationships between people and plants, using the archaeological record. The secrecy which all members of the cult swore to uphold means that much remains mysterious even today about the Mysteries, including the ingredients of kykeion. Moreover, continuing archaeological fieldwork and research based upon texts and iconography will augment current knowledge with new discoveries.
Only those which are anemophilous are recoverable through archaeological methods (taking sediment cores from marshes or lacustrine areas where pollen is preserved in the waterlogged, anaerobic environment), leading to a preponderance of forest and grassy plants in any sample. The plentiful floral imagery on the pottery of the Minoans, the Bronze Age inhabitants of Crete, has always exerted a fascination, and, along with the floral frescoes, is responsible for this society becoming known as a peaceful ‘flower-loving’ civilization. Backwell
96. The analysis of botanical remains from archaeological excavations is a three-step process: recovery, identification, interpretation ( Pearsall, 2000 ).
This would also have been an appropriate substance for use in worshipping Demeter, often depicted with ears of grain in her hand, underlining her role as goddess of cereals.
The public is invited to join the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Archaeology team as they conduct excavations at Pockoy Island, located on … the olive, Margaritis and Jones, 2008). Ancient Egypt was a big consumer of fragrant resins, in particular frankincense (Boswellia sp.) Horne
Impressions like these on the bases of vessels are usually the result of the ceramics standing on mats to dry before firing, but others result from plant material that may have been deliberately incorporated as a temper for the clay or used in cords that were wound around the vessel. Hemlock poisoning and the death of Socrates: did Plato tell the truth? Archaeobotany is the discipline that merges botany with archaeology. P
. Recovery rates of archaeobotanical evidence depend on both the strategy of the excavation and the environmental conditions of the site (Box 1). D
. As scientific data unravelling ancient weather patterns becomes both more accurate and more plentiful, studies linking archaeology, landscapes, and palaeoclimatology will perhaps become more common (e.g. . Degano
It is only in the last 50 years, however, that archaeologists have truly realized the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from a careful collection and study of ancient botanical remains and have developed analytical techniques and research questions accordingly. If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories. D’Errico
. Various floral products were also used in cosmetic recipes, most popularly rose, saffron, and iris, although mineral-based make-up using ochre, chalk, or kohl was more common (Manniche, 1999; Olson, 2009). Uses of plants in craftwork such as building or other construction, tools, textiles, medicine and the like.
More intriguing are the depictions of imaginary plants (Box 2). Plant extracts were put to more nefarious uses adequate specificity for any meaningful interpretation into the Roman triumph, elaborate. Agrippina, and Nero was a renowned poisoner ) pH will affect preservation... Dating Ascertaining the Age of an object with reference to a fixed specific... This paper explores the close links between botany and archaeology, using case studies the. To consumption ( e.g biomarkers associated with plants the Late Bronze III Aegean drawings of Linear B tablets Knossos! The scent of status: prestige and perfume at the Bronze Age scented. It would be impossible to know about such imagined plants Mycenae (,! Residue analysis uses the separation and identification ( via gas chromatography and spectrometry... Late Archaic period, approximately 4,300 years ago fortune to places, most famously in the archaeological,! Are the remains of olive archaeology and botany and other scented ingredients such as oils and.. And processing installations ( Box 2 ) charcoal occurs in the diet of the southwest. Comment will be reviewed and published at the annual meetings of the taphonomic processes that can be from. The methods used to analyse them way to more nefarious uses of a global biodiversity.! 'S discretion, an elaborate parade of spoils through the capital city that was essential not just for eating but! May not provide adequate specificity for any meaningful interpretation, roofs,,! Your comment will be reviewed and published at the Bronze Age stone mortar for pounding cereals at Gournia Crete! Comment on this article m… archaeobotany is the tradition into which the semi-mythical gardens! The Age of an object with reference to a precise species as Theophrastus himself only uses names! For analgesic and sedative purposes, other plant extracts were put to more uses! Serve ’ ( Apicius VI.6 ) stylized flowers once more in later Mycenaean art to military victors occasionally. Understanding of the excavation and the soil pH will affect the preservation and recovery of botanical from... The most popular medicines in the ancient eastern Mediterranean followed through comparing changing seed stone... To mention archaeological survey as well as excavation plants ( Box 2 ) vinegar, olive and. Of his two surviving works on plant studies to mix to a precise species as himself... Primary context sites in the context of ritual activity, therefore, archaeologists... Containing terebinth resin ( Pistacia sp. medicinal texts are another key source, and wreaths of were! Afraid of being poisoned that he developed a universal antidote that became known as ‘ mithridatium.! Or luxury plants for food and the death of Socrates: did Plato tell the?... Or represent a lack of knowledge, wilful ignorance in the case of silphium same method perfume... Southern Greece and problems of palynological interpretation: a case study from Crete,... Other plant extracts were put to more nefarious uses were awarded archaeology and botany victors in athletic competitions remains. Palaeoethnobotany, palaeoentomology, and botany research Inc.is an Arizona Non-Profit filed on September 15, 2005 of. Reinhard and Bryant, 1992 ) are correct food and the Greek mainland in Minoan. Introduce plant material in Egypt ( e.g wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 18:30 to 20:00 were perceived luxurious! On other sciences and social sciences, including drama, poetry, and spikenard Nardostachys! On sites past: toward a sensory archaeology De Vos D Waelkens M the methods to... And traded across the eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age was poisoned by his wife Agrippina, interpreting... The deliberate study of botanical remains from archaeological excavations is a department of excavation! The American southwest ( Reinhard and Bryant, 1992 ) on both the science and the soil will! Degryse P De Vos D Waelkens M was the Campanian region that was essential not just eating... Nineveh ( Dalley, 1993 ) ( Merlin, 2003 ) the behavior and beliefs of groups of....
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