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An offprint from

Plants and People

Choices and Diversity through Time
edited by

Alexandre Chevalier, Elena Marinova

and Leonor Pea-Chocarro
Hardcover Edition: ISBN 978-184217-514-9
Digital Edition: ISBN 978-1-78297-033-0

Oxbow Books 2014

Oxford & Philadelphia

Early Agricultural Remnants

and Technical Heritage (EARTH):
8,000 Years of Resilience and Innovation
Volume 1

Series Editors

Patricia C. Anderson and Leonor Pea-Chocarro

Coordinating Editor

Andreas G. Heiss

Published in the United Kingdom in 2014 by

10 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford OX1 2EW
and in the United States by
908 Darby Road, Havertown, PA 19083
Oxbow Books and the individual authors 2014
Hardcover Edition: ISBN 978-184217-514-9
Digital Edition: ISBN 978-1-78297-033-0
A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Plants and people : choices and diversity through time / edited by Alexandre Chevalier, Elena Marinova and Leonor PeaChocarro.
pages cm. -- (Early agricultural remnants and technical heritage (EARTH) : 8,000 years of resilience and innovation ;
volume 1)
ISBN 978-1-84217-514-9
1. Plant diversity. 2. Ethnobotany. 3. Human-plant relationships. I. Chevalier, Alexandre, 1966- editor of compilation. II.
Marinova, Elena, editor of compilation. III. Pea-Chocarro, Leonor, editor of compilation.
QK46.5.D58P53 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
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Cover illustrations
Woman preparing yufka (flat bread), in the village of Kavanoluk (Buldan, Turkey). Image: Alexandre Chevalier
Wheat field in Soria (Spain). Image: Leonor Pea-Chocarro
Farmer winnowing einkorn wheat in Zuheros (Crdoba, Spain). Image: Leonor Pea-Chocarro

ESF member organisations funding the EARTH Networking Programme and publicationsvi
Preface xiii

Section 1: Methodological Approaches to Plant Use Diversity

1. Factors and Issues in Plant Choice A. Chevalier, E. Marinova, L. Pea-Chocarro3
2. Exploring Diversity in the Past and in the Present edited by L. Zapata15

2.1. Exploring Diversity in the Past: An Introduction L. Zapata15
2.2. Exploring Diversity Through Archaeobotany L. S. Cummings20
2.3. Exploring Diversity Through Written Sources J. L. Mingote Caldern, M. Russel, F. Sigaut27
2.4. Representing Nature: Images and Social Dynamics in Ancient Societies S. Gonzlez Reyero33
2.5. Exploring Diversity in the Present: Ethnobotany Studies G. S. Cruz-Garca42
2.6. Conclusions L. Zapata51

Section 2: Food Plants

3. Crop Diversity Through Time edited by E. Marinova61
3.1. Introduction E. Marinova61
3.2. Crop Diversity and Choice in Prehistoric Southeastern Europe: Cultural and Environmental
Factors Shaping the Archaeobotanical Record of Northern Greece and Bulgaria
E. Marinova, S.-M. Valamoti64
3.3. Crop Diversity between Central Europe and the Mediterranean: Aspects of Northern Italian
Agriculture M. Rottoli75
3.4. Crop Diversity in Southwestern Central Europe from the Neolithic onwards S. Jacomet82
3.5. Crop Diversity in the Neolithic of the Iberian Peninsula L. Pea-Chocarro, L. Zapata96
3.6. Choice of a Crop and its Underlying Reasons: Examples from Western Central Europe
500 BCECE 900 C. Bakels101
3.7. Crops and Agricultural Developments in Western Europe F. Sigaut107
3.8. Crop Diversity and Choice in the Prehistoric American Southwest L. S. Cummings113
3.9. Processes of Prehistoric Crop Diversification in the Lake Titicaca Basin of the South
American Andes M. C. Bruno118
3.10. Conclusions E. Marinova125

4. Adding Diversity. Between Occasional Food and Speculative Productions: Diversity of Fruit Uses,
Diversity of Practices Regarding Fruit Tree Cultivation edited by L. Bouby, M.-P. Ruas141
4.1. Introduction L. Bouby, M.-P. Ruas141
4.2. Acorn Use in Native California R. Cuthrell150
4.3. A Wild Solution to Resilience and Provision: The Case of Prosopis spp. on the Peruvian

North Coast D. J. Goldstein156
4.4. Before the Empire: Prehistoric Fruit Gathering and Cultivation in Northern Italy M. Rottoli163
4.5. Citrus (Rutaceae) was Present in the Western Mediterranean in Antiquity Bui Thi Mai170
4.6. From Secondary to Speculative Production? The Protohistory History of Viticulture in

Southern France L. Bouby, P. Marinval, J.-F. Terral175
4.7. Fruit as Staple Food: The Role of Fig (Ficus carica L.) During the Pre-Hispanic Period of the

Canary Islands, Spain (from the 3rd2nd centuries BCE to the 15th century CE)

J. Morales, J. Gil182
4.8. Beyond the Divide Between Wild and Domesticated: Spatiality, Domesticity and Practices

Pertaining to Fig (Ficus carica L.) and Olive (Olea europaea L.) Agroecosystems Among Jbala

Communities in Northern Morocco Y. Aumeeruddy-Thomas, Y. Hmimsa, M. Ater, B. Khadari191
4.9. Conclusions L. Bouby198
5. Food Plants from the Wild edited by G. S. Cruz-Garca, F. Ertu211
5.1. Introduction: Wild Food Plants in the Present and Past G. S. Cruz-Garca, F. Ertu211
5.2. Gathering in a New Environment: The Use of Wild Food Plants During the First Colonisation

of the Canary Islands, Spain (2nd3rd century BCE to 15th Century CE) J. Morales, J. Gil216
5.3. Wild Food Plants Traditionally Used in Spain: Regional Analysis

J. Tardo, M. Pardo-de-Santayana228
5.4. Use of Wild Food Plant Resources in the Dogon Country, Mali C. Selleger236
5.5. Silverweed: a Food Plant on the Road from Wild to Cultivated? C. Griffin-Kremer242
5.6. Cleome: a Wild Plant as Complement to Cultigens in Southwestern North America

L. S. Cummings250
5.7. Conclusions G. S. Cruz-Garca, F. Ertu254

Section 3: Food and Beyond

6. A Versatile World: Examples of Diversity in Plant Use edited by C. Griffin-Kremer266
6.1. Introduction C. Griffin-Kremer 266
6.2. Humble Plants: Uses of Furze and Nettles in the British Isles (and Beyond)

C. Griffin-Kremer270
6.3. Versatile Hulled Wheats: Farmers Traditional Uses of Three Endangered Crop Species

in the Western Mediterranean L. Pea-Chocarro, L. Zapata276
6.4. Use of Crop-Processing By-Products for Tempering in Earthen Construction Techniques

E. Bonnaire282
6.5. Uses of the Wild Grass Ampelodesmos mauritanica in Northwestern Tunisia Today

P. C. Anderson287
6.6. Uses of the Mastic Tree (Pistacia lentiscus L.) in the West Mediterranean Region:

An Example from Sardinia, Italy Bui Thi Mai, M. Girard, F. de Lanfranchi293

6.7. Ancient and Modern Boat Caulking: Use of Oleoresins in Tropical Asia

Bui Thi Mai, M. Girard299
6.8. Conclusions C. Griffin-Kremer305

7. Plants Used in Ritual Offerings and in Festive Contexts edited by A.-M. Hansson, A. G. Heiss311
7.1. Introduction A.-M. Hansson, A. G. Heiss311
7.2. Hidden Stone A Unique Bread Offering from an Early Medieval Cremation Grave

at Lov, Sweden A. M. Hansson335
7.3. Ceremonial Foodstuff from Prehistoric Burnt-Offering Places in the Alpine Region

A. G. Heiss343
7.4. Festive Use of Plants: A Diachronic Glimpse of May Day in the British Isles, France and

Slightly Beyond C. Griffin-Kremer354
7.4a. Common Plant Names, Now and Then The Botanical Viewpoint

C. Griffin-Kremer, A. G. Heiss361
7.5. Ceremonial Plants Among the Hopi in North America L. S. Cummings364
7.6. Ceremonial Plants in the Andean Region M. Sayre368
7.7. Conclusions A. G. Heiss, A.-M. Hansson374
8. Social Status, Identity and Contexts edited by A. Chevalier385
8.1. Introduction A. Chevalier385
8.2. Plants for the Ancestors: Perpetuation of Social Status and Justification of Power

in a Late Formative (400100 BCE) Andean Group A. Chevalier, J. Dulanto391
8.3. Plants in the Eastern Iberian Iron Age: From Daily Work to the Ideological Construction

of the Community S. Gonzlez Reyero403
8.4. Social Status and Food Diet in Bibracte, Morvan (Burgundy, France)

F. Durand, J. Wiethold412
8.5. Symbol of Poverty? Childrens Evaluation of Wild Food Plants in Wayanad, India

G. S. Cruz-Garca421
8.6. More than Simply Fallback Food? Social Context of Plant Use in the Northern
German Neolithic W. Kirleis, S. Kloo428
8.7. Legal Constraints Influencing Crop Choice in Castile and Environs from Middle Ages

to the 19th century: Some Examples J. L. Mingote Caldern439
8.8. Late Classic Maya Provisioning and Distinction in Northwestern Belize

D. J. Goldstein, J. B. Hageman444
8.9. Conclusions A. Chevalier452
9. Conclusions Plants for Thoughts A. Chevalier, L. Pea-Chocarro, E. Marinova467

The EARTH Steering Committee (20042009)475
EARTH Programme Members476
Scientific Networking Workshops Contributing to the Contents of this Book478

6.4. Use of Crop-Processing By-Products for

Tempering in Earthen Construction Techniques
Emmanuelle Bonnaire

Earth is a ubiquitous material found all around the
world, both in traditional vernacular housing and
also for prestigious buildings in complex societies,
where building stone is not available and where
climatic conditions allow its use (e.g. deserts in the
Middle East and South America). This is true even
today for some areas in Europe, where these older
building traditions have been placed at the cutting
edge of sustainable architecture (Cousins 2000;
Houben and Guillaud 1994; Jeannet et al. 2003). If the
occurrence of such techniques is widespread across
the world, the technical and material challenges are
often highly local, since clay soils often hold only
a small proportion of pure clay. The remainder is
made up of inert aggregates such as silt, sand and
gravel. Clay expands and shrinks according to the
ambient humidity, so controlling this expansion
and contraction is a prime objective for builders,
both ancient and modern. In a few areas, the subsoil
can be used just as it comes from the ground, but it
generally has to be tempered, and the role of straw
is paramount in this process. It assists in handling
and provides reinforcement, as well as minimising
and distributing the fine cracks that form as the
earthen material dries (McCann 2004).
Preparation of earth for building often involves
the addition of plant temper for both bonding
and plasticity. Various parts of cereals are used as
temper and, in most cases, these are by-products
of crop processing. After a period of time, the plant
temper usually disappears, leaving impressions

in the clay. In archaeology, these impressions

are studied as part of archaeobotanical research
providing evidence for past agricultural activities
and techniques. Although the study of impressions
is done only occasionally, their analysis provides
useful insights into the ways crop by-products were
used and completes information obtained through
traditional seed analysis on the various utilisations
of cereals. In many cases, this information has been
insufficiently exploited on archaeological sites
due to the lack of a reference collection of cereal
impressions. Therefore, a reference system has
recently been established (and can be used in all
temperate regions), enabling the identifications to
be made through comparison with modern cereals.

Crop Processing and By-Products

Earth is an ideal building material which can take on
various forms, depending on how it is prepared: mud
bricks, daub, pis or plaster. In order to reinforce
the structure of the earth used for building, it
is necessary to add a plant temper. Also, various
techniques improve the properties of the earth.
Most of the plant components used in temper are
derived from agriculture, commonly from the waste
generated during the threshing of cereals (Willcox
1995; Willcox and Fornite 1999). Naked cereals
(bread wheat or durum wheat) seem to be better
suited for use as temper, due to their greater ease in
threshing, than hulled cereals (e.g. einkorn, emmer,


spelt, barley) whose glumes, paleas and lemmas
(chaff) adhere tightly to the grain. This particular
characteristic determines the way naked and hulled
cereals are processed, that is, for the hulled cereals,
dehusking is needed to separate both grain and
chaff, whereas in the naked forms, threshing is
enough to separate both (see, for example, van der
Veen 1999).

Cereal crop-processing includes a series of different
steps (winnowing, different sievings, etc.) carried out
to clean cereal grain of the different contaminants
(chaff, weed seeds, stems, etc.) so it can be used for
consumption. The process involves numerous steps
which vary according to whether the cereal is hulled
or naked. From the 1980s onwards, ethnobotanical
data on wheats have been provided by G. Hillman
(1984a and b; 1985) after fieldwork in Turkey; by G.
Jones (1984), mainly in Greece; by Pea-Chocarro
(1999) in Spain; by S. Reddy (2003) in India (millet
and sorghum), as well as other researchers working
in other parts of the world (Harvey and Fuller
2005). Their observations and studies of traditional
agrarian practices in regions where agriculture is
not yet mechanised have provided information
that is applicable to the reconstruction of past
husbandry practices. It has been recognised that
the different operations involved in the cropprocessing sequence have an important influence on
the composition of the archaeobotanical samples.
In fact, the proportions of grains, chaff (glumes,
rachises, etc.), straw fragments and nodes, weed
seeds of each product and by-products generated
after each operation vary at each stage (Fig. 6.6).
Our main interest here is in the products and
by-products resulting from crop processing. The
by-products are often called waste, even if they
are not always discarded. On the contrary, when
utilised, they become secondary products. In fact,
each type of sample resulting from the processing
operations may have more than one use: roofing
or flooring, fuel, bedding, fertiliser, fodder, human
food and temper for building. For this last use, the
by-products are collected during the various stages
of cereal processing. Most of the cereal by-products
used in temper comes from winnowing, during
which the threshed grains are separated from their


chaff and impurities. Throwing the threshed cereal

into the air allows the wind to blow away the lightest
fraction (chaff, straw, rachis segments, awns and
light weed seeds) or by-product, while the heavier
fraction or product (mostly grain) is set aside for
further processing.
In the case of hulled wheats, as their glumes adhere
tightly to the grain (see above), an additional step
is required which makes it possible to free the
grain from the chaff. This is done by dehusking,
a mechanical action which breaks up the glumes
and frees the grain. The mixture then undergoes a
second winnowing. The by-products generated in
this operation can be incorporated in the building
earth, fulfilling a second function as a plant temper
for construction material.

Cereals in Building Material

Elements of plant temper

Plant temper is made of cereal by-products genera

ted during crop processing and it includes various
parts of the plant (Fig. 6.7). Cereal stems are made
up of nodes, where the leaves are inserted, and
hollow internodes. The ear (or inflorescence) is a
compound spike at the end of the stem. The ear
consists of a group of spikelets around a central
rachis which is made up of nodes and short
internodes. At each node, a spikelet attaches to the
rachis. The spikelets have at their bases bracts or
glumes and contain the individual flowers (florets in
grasses). Each floret, which will produce the grains,
is surrounded by bracts called the lemma and palea.
The lemmas end in long awns.

Identification: problems and issues

Through time, the organic parts of the plant temper
decompose, leaving impressions in the earth that
once contained them and providing an opportunity
for their study. Attempts to identify the cereal
species involved have been made (Willcox and
Tengberg 1995; Willcox and Fornite 1999). However,
the impressions are often incomplete, making
species identification difficult. The major problem
is, in fact, the absence of detailed information on
the vegetal structure of cereal glumes and inner
glumes. This lack of information made it necessary


Emmanuelle Bonnaire

ears, stalks, roots and weed =


straw, large weed seeds, rachis


Raking / Sweeping
straw fragments, large weed
seeds, stalk nodes, awns, rachis

grains/spikelets, straw
fragments and weed seeds

First Winnowing
grains/spikelets, straw node
fragments, weed seeds

straw fragments, lightest weed

seed, awns

First Sieving
small spikelets, stalk nodes,
weed seeds

grains/spikelets, weed seeds

Second Sieving
grains/spikelets, weed seeds

small weed seeds


(Parching )

Pounding / Dehusking

Second Winnowing
small glume fragments, light
weed seeds, straw fragments

grains, weed seeds

Third Sieving

Stocking or Preparation for Consumption



operations of crop
processing of naked
and hulled cereals


Fig. 6.6. Crop processing for naked cereals and hulled cereals.

operations of hulled
waste / by-products



Fig. 6.7. Plant components of tempering. Image: E. Bonnaire.

to constitute a reference system in which distinctive

criteria for the different elements involved was
established (Bonnaire 2005; 2006). The choice of
the descriptive criteria is inspired partially by
work by L. Martin (2002), S. Jacomet (2008) and
G. Jones et al. (2000). The aim was to provide a
tool for taxa identification in situations where no
macro-remains were available. Apart from species
identification, agricultural practices and modes of
plant exploitation may be investigated, contributing
to a better understanding of past human activities.
Evidence is also provided for building techniques.
The reference system was based on the analysis of
key characters of modern cereals (various species
of wheat, barley, oat and rye). In addition, some
sub-species typical of temperate regions were
also chosen (e.g. emmer, hard wheat, bread wheat,
spelt or six-row barley). Most of the diagnostic
characteristics were observed in the glumes,
paleas and lemmas at the level of species and subspecies. These elements are extremely fragile
and tend to disappear when plant remains are
preserved by charring, but they are represented
in the majority of impressions found in building

material. Following this descriptive work on

modern specimens (Bonnaire and Tengberg 2007),
particular anatomical characters were attributed
to each cereal species and results presented in
atlas form with each sub-species described on a
card. In addition to the atlas, a summary of all the
morphological criteria observed for each taxon
was produced in the form of a classic botanical
identification key (Bonnaire 2006).
For the archaeological material, samples were
chosen and impressions described and analysed
using the identification criteria developed. The
selection of samples was made by a series of timeconsuming sorting procedures. First, the outer
surfaces were visually examined in order to find
potential material; in other words, impressions with
traits likely to be identifiable. Afterwards, sampling
was carried out according to the archaeological
contexts and the fragments were examined with a
microscope (magnification 10) in order to find the
best-preserved impressions. The different vegetal
elements were then observed looking at their
structural characteristics and comparing them with
the reference material (Bonnaire 2008).


Emmanuelle Bonnaire

In many areas of the world, cereals are the
main components of the human diet, providing
carbohydrates as well as many other elements
important for nutrition. Yet food is not the only
use of this plant category. Crop by-products
generated during crop-processing (chaff, straw,
weeds, etc.) have also been used for many different
purposes including tempering clay for building.
Evidence on their use comes not only from the
plant remains recovered on site, but also from
the analysis of plant impressions preserved in
mud or clay used for building, therefore providing
complementary information on plant use. Data
provided by the identification of the elements
involved in tempering is of great interest for
reconstructing past human activities related to
agriculture and plant management, as well as
construction techniques.

The precise identification of the crop processing byproducts contained in the mineral medium allows
us to reconstruct the sequence of steps involved
in transforming a crop into an edible product and
to explore the different products and by-products
generated at each step. Therefore, a more detailed
picture of the agricultural activities carried out
at the site can be produced. In addition, plant
impressions in building material provide insights
into techniques used to produce daub, plaster or
other types of building material in which plant
temper is used. In the absence of any evidence of
plants (e.g. seeds), impressions provide a unique
opportunity for documenting species cultivated in
the region and, when material comes from different
chronological layers, changes through time can be



Chapter Acknowledgements
The work by Leonor Pea-Chocarro and Lydia
Zapata (Chapter 6.3) has been carried out within
the framework of the projects AGRIWESTMED
(ERC-AdG-230561),HAR2008-03976/HIST, HAR200801920/HIST and HAR2011-23716 Nuevos cultivos,
nuevos paisajes and Programa Consolider TCPCSD2007-00058 from the Spanish Government. Lydia
Zapata is part of the Research Group of the Basque
Government IT-622-13 and UPV/EHU UFI 11-09.

Patricia Anderson acknowledges support for ethno

archaeological research from the GDR 2517 (Regards
interdisciplinaires sur les activits et techniques
agricoles anciennes et prindustrielles) of the
Centre for National Scientific Research, France.
Emmanuelle Bonnaire (Chapter 6.4) wishes to thank
Michael Ilett for translating her text.

Chapter Note
1 This sampling was carried out within the framework
of a Franco-Vietnamese programme to set up a pollen
referential for southeast Asia (Bui Thi Mai et al. 2005).

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