Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 453–464 | Cite as

Nutrition and environment in medieval Serbia: charred cereal, weed and fruit remains from the fortress of Ras

Original Article


This study presents the results of archaeobotanical examination of remains from the medieval complex of Ras in Serbia. The samples were collected from the fortress situated on the hilltop (Gradina) and from a settlement below (Podgradje) during the archaeological excavations of 1972–1984. They were taken primarily from the buildings containing charred cereals dating to the 12th and 13th centuries. The main staple was bread wheat, followed by rye. Grains of barley, oats, and millet were also present. The weeds, including ruderals, were represented by many species. Agrostemma githago (corn cockle) was an important contaminant of the cereal fields. Exceptional finds include a piece of charred round bread, the cereal content of a pot, and peach stone fragments. Previous information about the agriculture and food in medieval Serbia was based solely on documents that were either written after this period or that were not pertinent to the region. This study is the first direct evidence providing information about agriculture and food of the inhabitants of medieval Serbia.


Archaeobotany. Medieval Serbia. Fortress. Stores. Prunus persica. Bread 



I would like to thank M. Popović for entrusting me with the plant samples from Ras for this analysis. I am grateful to him and the Archaeological Institute in Belgrade for granting permission to reproduce and adapt illustrations for Figs. 2, 3, 7 in this article from the publication The Fortress of Ras by Popović (1999). I am also thankful to H. Kroll who helped me with the identification of ambiguous seed specimens. SEM photographs were done by M. Vieth from the Department of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. All other photos of plant remains were made by the author. Special thanks to S. Jacomet, H. Kroll, an anonymous reviewer for their comments on the manuscript, and J. Greig for copy editing.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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