The archaeobotany of long-term crop storage in northwest African communal granaries: a case study from pre-Hispanic Gran Canaria (cal. ad 1000–1500)
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- Morales, J., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, A., González-Marrero, M..C. et al. Veget Hist Archaeobot (2014) 23: 789. doi:10.1007/s00334-014-0444-4
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Communal granaries are a widespread and very significant feature of northwest Africa. Here the first systematic archaeobotanical study of such a granary is presented, with desiccated plant macro-remains retrieved from the pre-Hispanic site of El Álamo-Acusa, Gran Canaria, Spain (cal. ad 1000–1500). While modern contamination caused by animals was evident, most plant remains found there were ancient, including cereals, pulses, cultivated fruits and wild gathered plants. Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare and Ficus carica were the most common taxa, which appear to have been the two main staple foods for the pre-Hispanic population. The high frequencies of chaff and other plant residues indicate that crops were stored unprocessed. Most food plants had been eaten by insects and other animals, and only unpalatable parts were present. Remains of Sitophilus granarius (grain weevil) were common in the samples, suggesting problems of insect pests during long-term storage. In addition, we have identified leaves of cf. Laurusnovocanariensis, which may have been used as an insect repellent.