, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 279-286
Date: 06 Apr 2005

Plant remains from a Bell Beaker site in Switzerland, and the beginnings of Triticum spelta (spelt) cultivation in Europe

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Little is known of the archaeobotany of the Bell Beaker period. The village of Cortaillod/Sur les Rochettes-est in Switzerland is one of the first settlements of this date discovered so far; and one of the few sites where systematic archaeobotanical research could be undertaken. The 114 features, mainly postholes, produced 5080 charred plant macrofossils. The composition of the cereal spectrum was dominated by hulled wheats and notably by Triticum spelta (spelt). Other important components were Triticum dicoccum (emmer) and T. monococcum (einkorn), and probably also Hordeum (barley). The abundance of spelt represents a fundamental change compared with the plant finds from earlier sites of the region. The origin of this cereal species is discussed in the light of recent results of cytogenetic and molecular research.