Harvesting the ‘wild’? Exploring the context of fruit and nut exploitation at Neolithic Dikili Tash, with special reference to wine
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- Valamoti, S.M. Veget Hist Archaeobot (2015) 24: 35. doi:10.1007/s00334-014-0487-6
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The relationship between farming communities in south-eastern Europe and wild plant resources, fruit and nut trees in particular, is explored in this paper, based on charred plant remains from House 1 at late Neolithic Dikili Tash in eastern Macedonia, northern Greece, retrieved between 2010 and 2012. Within the rubble of a burnt destruction level dated to the second half of the 5th millennium cal BC, a wide range of cultivated crops like cereals, pulses and flax were stored together with a variety of fruit and nuts, such as acorns, wild pears, grapes, including grape pips and grape pressings and possibly figs, too. These finds provide a rare opportunity to investigate the use of fruit as well as the origins and context of wine making and consumption in the Neolithic of south-eastern Europe. Human interference with natural vegetation in relation to use of wild trees is discussed in light of the archaeobotanical, palynological and charcoal evidence from the wider area of the site. It is suggested that the remains from Dikili Tash may be pointing towards some early form of arboriculture in the region. The interplay of wild and domesticated plant resources encountered at the site is discussed within the framework of established oppositions between ‘wild’ and ‘domesticated’ in archaeological discourse. It is suggested that fruit and nut use at Dikili Tash might correspond to old traditions dating back to the hunter-gatherers of south-eastern Europe while wine, for which there is evidence at the site, might have acted as a mediator between human communities, cultivated landscapes and wild vegetation, inducing altered states of consciousness and cultivated/wild boundary transitions.