Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 571–577 | Cite as

Lallemantia, an imported or introduced oil plant in Bronze Age northern Greece

  • Glynis Jones
  • Soultana M. Valamoti
Original Article


This paper reports on seeds of Lallemantia (Lamiaceae) found at Bronze Age sites in northern Greece. At several of these sites, the seeds were found in significant concentrations in storage contexts, suggesting that they were deliberately stored for use by the inhabitants. Oil from the seeds of Lallemantia can be used for a variety of purposes, including food, lighting and medicine. This genus is not native to Greece, the nearest modern occurrences of Lallemantia species being in Anatolia from where they extend further east as far as Iran, or beyond. To date, it has not been found in Neolithic deposits in Greece, despite significant archaeobotanical research, especially in northern Greece. This suggests that it first appeared in Greece in the early Bronze Age, and indicates long distance contacts with communities to the east or north at this time. It is difficult to establish whether its continued use indicates that seeds of this genus were repeatedly brought into Greece throughout the Bronze Age or that the genus was introduced in the early Bronze Age and then locally cultivated. The presence of seeds, however, may suggest that Lallemantia was locally cultivated, as it would have been possible to import it in the form of oil. The appearance of a new import or introduction at this time adds to the evidence for external contact during the Bronze Age. Lallemantia may have been part of a group of oil producing taxa which became significant during the Bronze Age in northern Greece paralleling the increased importance of the olive in southern Greece.


Lallemantia Oil Greece Bronze Age Trade 



We would like to thank the excavators for the opportunity to study the archaeobotanical material from their sites: K. Kotsakis, A. Papaefthymiou-Papanthimou, A. Pilali-Papasteriou and K.A. Wardle. We are also indebted to K. Wasylikowa for first suggesting Lallemantia as a possible candidate for the identification of the Assiros material at the 9th IWGP symposium in 1992, and to H. Kroll and R. Neef for showing us specimens of Lallemantia from Feudvar and Hatoussa respectively and for access to their unpublished work. The following botanic gardens and individuals provided the reference material used for this research: University of Zagreb Botanic Garden, Croatia; University of Copenhagen Botanic Garden, Denmark; University of Göttingen Botanic Garden, Germany; University of Regensberg Botanic Garden, Germany; Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung, Gatersleben, Germany; University of Wrocław Botanic Garden, Poland; University of Gent Botanic Garden, Belgium; Kiev University Botanic Garden, Ukraine; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK; Johannes Gutenberg University Botanic Garden, Mainz, Germany; Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Vacratot, Hungary; National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Domain Bouchout; Town and University Botanic Garden, Caen, France; Köln Botanic Garden, Germany; Natural History Museum, Berlin, Germany; University Botanical Garden, St Andrews, UK; Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands, Iran; C. Palmer. We also wish to thank K. Svoboda and A. Bogaard for providing relevant publications, R. Caroussou for sharing her knowledge on the Lamiaceae of Greece and providing access to various floras, A. Jallili for information on Lallemantia and Dracocephalum in Iran, M. Kajale for information on Lallemantia royleana in India, and D. Malamidou for information on contacts during the Bronze Age in the north Aegean.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologySheffieldUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of ArchaeologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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