Vitis vinifera L.: Wild or cultivated? Study of the grape pips found at Petra, Jordan; 150 B.C. – A.D. 40

  • Christiane Jacquat
  • Danièle Martinoli


The identification of carbonised grape pips (Vitis vinifera ssp.) is problematic, and the morphological features generally used to distinguish the wild subspeciesV. vinifera ssp.sylvestris from the cultivated subspeciesV. vinifera ssp.vinifera are not satisfactory. Different biometric studies were carried out on Nabataean and Roman seeds found at Petra, Jordan, dated to 150 B.C. – A.D. 400, and the results were compared to known phytogeographical and climatic data. Depending on the identification method selected, the seeds were attributed either to wild grapevines (based on the ratio of breadth over length, and on discriminant analyses of size variables such as pip length, stalk length, and chalaza position), or to an archaic variety of vine with seeds morphologically close to those of wild grapevines (ratio of stalk length over total pip length). The methods used here were applied to European grape pips; they should be tested on Near Eastern material. Archaeological data did not clarify the situation, and the importance of viticulture, which was prohibited during the Nabataean period, remains difficult to evaluate at Petra.

Key words

Identification Grapevine Archaeobotany Nabataean period Jordan-Petra 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christiane Jacquat
    • 1
  • Danièle Martinoli
    • 1
  1. 1.Geobotanical Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologyZurichSwitzerland

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