, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 75-89

The diet of Eneolithic (Copper Age, Fourth millennium cal b.c.) pile dwellers and the early formation of the cultural landscape south of the Alps: a case study from Slovenia

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Abstract

Analyses were performed of plant remains from the Late Neolithic (in Slovenian terminology corresponding to Eneolithic or Copper Age, ca. 4300–2300 b.c.) pile dwelling Hočevarica in the Ljubljansko barje (Ljubljana Moor), Slovenia. This settlement existed between ca. 3650 and 3550 cal b.c. Seeds, fruits, wooden piles, macroscopic charcoal and pollen from the cultural layers were analysed. The remains of domestic plants such as charred grains of Hordeum vulgare (barley), Triticum monococcum, T. dicoccum (einkorn and emmer wheat) and Papaver somniferum (poppy seeds), as well as seeds of weeds such as Chenopodium album-type indicate early cultivation in the area. In addition, numerous remains of nuts and berries, especially of Quercus sp., Cornus mas, Rubus fruticosus and Corylus avellana demonstrate that the gathering of wild plants was an important part of subsistence. Palaeoecological and archaeobotanical data from Hočevarica further suggest that cleared land was used for agriculture and pastures during the Neolithic, and that different wood was cut for construction and for fuel. The species assemblage from Hočevarica is very similar to those recovered from northern Alpine lake dwelling sites, however, several new taxa (e.g. Lathyrus sativus, Vicia sp.) appear in the assemblage. One of the most surprising finds is the seed of wild grape (Vitis vinifera ssp. sylvestris), which are the oldest on-site remains of grapevine from Slovenia.