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Cereal husbandry and settlement: Expanding archaeobotanical perspectives on the southern Scandinavian Iron Age
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies, Environmental Archaeology Lab.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The here presented PhD project explores the phenomenon of cereal cultivation during the Iron Age (c. 500 BC – AD 1100) in southern Scandinavia. The main body of the thesis consists of four articles. These were written with the aim to identify chronological, geographical, theoretical and methodological gaps in current research, to develop, apply and evaluate approaches to how new knowledge on Iron Age cereal cultivation can be attained, and to assess the interaction between archaeobotany and other specialisms currently used in settlement archaeology. The introduction section of the thesis also contains a historical overview of archaeobotanical research on cereal cultivation in southern Scandinavia.

The first article is a compilation and summary of all available previously performed  archaeobotanical investigations in southern Sweden. This data is compared and discussed in relation to similar publications in Denmark and smaller scale compilations previously published in Sweden. The main result of the study is an updated and enhanced understanding of the main developments in the investigation area and a deepened knowledge of local development chronologies and trajectories in different parts of southern Sweden.

The second article is a methodological presentation of a multiproxy analysis combining plant macrofossil analysis, phosphate analysis, magnetic susceptibility analysis and measurement of soil organic matter by loss on ignition. The applicability of the method for identification and delineation of space functions on southern Scandinavian Iron Age sites is discussed and illustrated by two case studies from the Danish site of Gedved Vest. Particular focus is placed on exploration of the use of the functional analysis for assessment of taphonomic and operational contexts of carbonised plant macrofossil assemblages.

The third article aims at presenting an Iron Age cereal cultivation history for east-central Jutland, an area identified at the outset of the project as under-represented in archaeobotanical studies. The article combines data from depth analyses of material from the sites of Gedved Vest and Kristinebjerg Øst (analysed with the methods and theory presented in the second article) with a compilation of previously performed archaeobotanical analyses from east-central Jutland. The main results of the study are that developments in the study area appear to follow a chronology similar to that previously observed on Funen rather than the rest of the peninsula. Rye cultivation is furthermore discussed as more dynamic and flexible than previously presented in Scandinavian archaeobotanical literature.

The fourth and final article leaves archaeobotany as the main topic. It focuses instead on evaluating, theorising and expanding the multiproxy method presented in the second article by a thorough comparison of the botanical, geochemical and geophysical methods to other techniques of functional analysis currently used in archaeology. These techniques include studies of artefact distributions, assessments of spatial relations between settlement features, and studies of the structural details of dwellings and other constructions. The main result is that there is a correspondence between the functional indications provided by botanical, geochemical and geophysical methods and techniques used in mainstream archaeology. The comparison furthermore shows that a combination of the two data sets allows for more highly resolved functional interpretations than if they are used separately.

The main conclusion of the PhD thesis, based on the discussions in all four articles, is that archaeobotanical questions commonly necessitate the assessment of non-botanical archaeological material. The comparison of archaeobotanical data to other segments of the archaeological record does, however, enable the use of the former as an archaeological resource for addressing non-botanical questions. The increased understanding of (mainly settlement) site dynamics resulting from this integration of methods allows archaeobotanists to address increasingly complex botanical questions. Increased and more structured integration between archaeobotany and other specialisms operating within the framework of settlement archaeology is therefore argued to be the preferred approach to performing both high quality archaeobotany and settlement archaeology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2014. , 112 p.
Series
Archaeology and environment, ISSN 0281-5877 ; 28
Keyword [en]
cereal cultivation, iron age, southern Scandinavia, archaeobotany, settlement archaeology
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
environmental archaeology; Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87499ISBN: 978-91-7601-011-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-87499DiVA: diva2:709582
Public defence
2014-05-23, Beteendevetarhuset, Bt 102, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-04-30 Created: 2014-04-02 Last updated: 2015-12-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Changes in cereal cultivation during the Iron Age in southern Sweden: a compilation and interpretation of the archaeobotanical material
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changes in cereal cultivation during the Iron Age in southern Sweden: a compilation and interpretation of the archaeobotanical material
2011 (English)In: Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, ISSN 0939-6314, E-ISSN 1617-6278, Vol. 20, no 5, 479-494 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Macrofossil data from 73 sites dating to the south Swedish Iron Age (500 b.c.-a.d. 1100) have been compiled and analyzed in order to elucidate long term changes in cereal cultivation. The analyses indicate that “permanent field” agriculture was established at the end of the Bronze Age utilizing Hordeum vulgare var vulgare as a primary crop and Triticum aestivum ssp vulgare/compactum, Triticum spelta/dicoccum/monococcum, Avena sativa and Secale cereale as secondary crops. An observed change towards the end of Roman Iron Age (1-a.d. 400) is the expansion of Secale cereale and Avena sativa cultivation. Evidence also suggests that winter sowing of the former commenced at the latest during the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries a.d. The introduction of winter sowing possibly coincided with the establishment of crop rotation agriculture. During most of the Iron Age southern Sweden displays significant regional variations with regards to cereal cultivation practice. There is however evidence that a more homogenous agriculture appeared across the investigated area from the beginning of the Viking Age (a.d. 800-1100) onwards.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: Springer-International, 2011
Keyword
Southern Sweden, Iron Age, Cereal cultivation, Regional compilation, Plant macrofossil material
National Category
Archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-46676 (URN)10.1007/s00334-011-0283-5 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-09-14 Created: 2011-09-09 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. Functional interpretation of Iron Age longhouses at Gedved Vest, East Jutland, Denmark: multiproxy analysis of house functionality as a way of evaluating carbonised botanical assemblages
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Functional interpretation of Iron Age longhouses at Gedved Vest, East Jutland, Denmark: multiproxy analysis of house functionality as a way of evaluating carbonised botanical assemblages
2014 (English)In: Archaeological and Anthropological Science, ISSN 1866-9565, Vol. 6, no 4, 329-343 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to describe a methodology for defining functional spaces within south Scandinavian Iron Age longhouses using a multiproxy application of archaeobotanical (carbonised plant macrofossil), geochemical (phosphate, loss on ignition) and geophysical (magnetic susceptibility) analyses. The applicability of the methods is illustrated by two case studies from the site of Gedved Vest, eastern Jutland, Denmark. The approach is described and evaluated from an archaeobotanical perspective, discussing its possible implications for interpretation of carbonised plant assemblages from Iron Age settlement contexts. Possible implications to archaeology beyond the scope of archaeobotany are also discussed

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: Springer, 2014
Keyword
Multiproxy analysis, Plant macrofossil analysis, Phosphate analysis, Magnetic susceptibility, Loss on ignition, Iron Age Denmark, Settlement archaeology
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology; environmental archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87835 (URN)10.1007/s12520-013-0161-4 (DOI)000345074000002 ()
Available from: 2014-04-11 Created: 2014-04-11 Last updated: 2017-01-17Bibliographically approved
3. Cereal cultivation in east-central Jutland during the Iron Age, 500 BC–AD 1100
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cereal cultivation in east-central Jutland during the Iron Age, 500 BC–AD 1100
2013 (English)In: Danish Journal of Archeology, ISSN 2166-2290, Vol. 2, no 2, 164-196 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article aims at presenting a cereal cultivation history for the Iron Age (500 BC–AD 1100) in east-central Jutland (Vejle and Århus County). The developments in cereal cultivation are presented based on recent investigations of material from the Iron Age sites of Gedved Vest and Kristinebjerg Øst, as well as a compilation of 10 previously analysed sites.The combined data show that barley (Hordeum vulgare) was the dominant cereal throughout the period, with a seemingly rapid shift from naked barley (Hordeum vulgare var nudum) to hulled barley (Hordeum vulgare var vulgare) around the year 1 BC/AD. Rye (Secale cereale) is present in archaeobotanical assemblages throughout the period, but secure evidence of its cultivation exist only from the end of the second century AD onward. From the fourth century AD onward, the record indicates that rye may have been utilised as a dominant crop alongside barley.The cultivation of subdominant cereals, hulled wheats (Triticum dicoccum/spelta/monococcum), naked bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) and oat (Avena sativa), is also discussed. A reappearance of naked barley during the fourth to sixth century AD is also elaborated upon.Agricultural strategies are assessed based on the material and an interpretation is put forward that cultivation from the fifth century BC to at least the third century AD took place on manured, spring sown fields, which were slowly rotated between cultivation and fallow. The shift toward crop-rotation of barley and rye is also investigated

Keyword
Cereal Cultivation, Iron Age, Jutland, Denmark, South Scandinavia, Archaeobotany, Plant Macrofossil Analysis, Phosphate Analysis, Magnetic Susceptibility, Settlement Archaeology
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology; environmental archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-101529 (URN)10.1080/21662282.2014.920127 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-04-01 Created: 2015-04-01 Last updated: 2015-12-07Bibliographically approved
4. Identification and delineation of settlement space functions in the south Scandinavian Iron Age: theoretical perspectives and practical approaches
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Identification and delineation of settlement space functions in the south Scandinavian Iron Age: theoretical perspectives and practical approaches
2014 (English)In: Journal of Archaeology and Ancient History (JAAH), E-ISSN 2001-1199, no 12, 1-57 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents an overview of methods used in south Scandinavian ar-chaeology for identification and delineation of settlement space functions. The overview includes commonly utilised archaeological approaches, such as arte-fact distribution studies and inferences based on assessment of house and set-tlement morphologies, as well as archaeobotanical, geochemical and geophysi-cal approaches to functional analysis. The theoretical potential and limitations of each presented functional parameter are outlined and thereafter applied and compared using material from five case study sites in east-central Jutland, Hal-land and Bohuslän. The presentation of the site of Gedved Vest in east-central Jutland also incorporates a comparison of two common approaches to geo-chemical sampling: 1) sampling and analysis of soil retrieved from feature fills, and 2) horizontal sampling of soil from the interface between the topsoil (A/Ap) and the subsoil (C) - horizons along a pre-determined grid.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 2014
Keyword
settlement archaeology, Iron Age, longhouses, functionality of space, multiproxy analysis, phosphate analysis, plant macrofossil analysis, magnetic susceptibility, soil organic matter, artefact distribution, house architecture, settlement structure
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-112429 (URN)
Available from: 2015-12-07 Created: 2015-12-07 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved

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