Human diet and land use in the time of the Khans—Archaeobotanical research in the capital of the Mongolian Empire, Qara Qorum, Mongolia

Abstract

Archaeobotanical investigations at Qara Qorum (Karakorum), Mongolia, reveal information about diet and land use from the 13th to the 15th century A.D. People grew Panicum miliaceum, Hordeum vulgare, Triticum aestivum and Setaria italica in nearby irrigated fields but additionally imported all other known cereals, including Oryza sativa, in small amounts as well as oil and fibre plants and pulses. The most common oil and fibre plant was Cannabis sativa. At least ten species of vegetables and spices such as Carum carvi, Coriandrum sativum, Apium graveolens, Beta vulgaris, Lycium chinense and Piper nigrum were either gathered from the wild, grown locally or imported. Apart from some wild gathered species like Pinus sibirica and Fragaria vesca, most of the fruits and nuts as for instance Vitis vinifera, Ficus carica, Ziziphus jujuba, Prunus dulcis, P. insititia, P. avium and P. persica, Cucumis melo and Juglans regia must also have been imported from quite long distances. First pollen results from lake Ugii Nuur, 50 km north of Qara Qorum indicate a much earlier beginning of agriculture than in the high and late Medieval.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the excavators, especially H. Roth (the late)†, H.-J. Hüttel, E. Pohl and E. Nagel for good cooperation, and M. Walther for providing the Ugii Nuur core. S. Jacomet and G. Willcox gave useful comments to a former draft

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Correspondence to Manfred Rösch.

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Rösch, M., Fischer, E. & Märkle, T. Human diet and land use in the time of the Khans—Archaeobotanical research in the capital of the Mongolian Empire, Qara Qorum, Mongolia. Veget Hist Archaeobot 14, 485–492 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-005-0074-y

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Keywords

  • Mongolia
  • High and late medieval
  • Human diet and land use
  • Town