Archaeobotany as a source of information about past agrarian practices.

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskning

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Prehistoric finds of charred plant remains can contribute greatly to our knowledge of past agricultural and domestic practices. By analysing finds of this nature with regard to their content of crop products, crop by-products and weed seeds, we can shed light on contemporary agrarian techniques such as soil preparation, manuring, harvesting, processing and storage.
In Denmark, the few investigations carried out into prehistoric agriculture to date have concentrated largely on establishing WHAT was cultivated i.e. which crops were cultivated during which periods. It is however possible to carry out analyses specifically with the intention of gaining detailed information about HOW crops were produced i.e. the techniques of cultivation, harvesting, processing and storage.
In 1992, one of us (PSH) examined all available published and unpublished analyses of crop plants and weed seeds from the Danish Iron Age with the second of these aims in mind. The review showed that very few finds were either large enough or well enough analysed and documented to permit interpretation in this way.
The most promising finds were those from the sites of Overbygård, Fjand, Alrum and Østerbølle, and in 1993 we (PSH & DR) began detailed analysis of these. The analyses were not without their difficulties, however it proved possible to extract some usable data and the provisional conclusions are presented in this paper.
On the basis of these findings a research strategy aimed at unravelling early Iron Age agriculture has been formulated. This involves both the analysis of specific categories of carbonised fossil material and experiments in practical agriculture.
TitelProceedings from the 6th Nordic Conference on the Application of Scientific Metods in Archaeology, Esbjerg 1993.
Antal sider9
Vol/bindnr. 1, 1996
ISBN (Trykt)87 8962 0046
StatusUdgivet - 1996
NavnArkæologiske rapporter fra Esbjerg Museum