Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 17, Supplement 1, pp 225–238

New aspects of agriculture and diet of the early medieval period in central Europe: waterlogged plant material from sites in south-western Germany

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00334-008-0184-4

Cite this article as:
Rösch, M. Veget Hist Archaeobot (2008) 17(Suppl 1): 225. doi:10.1007/s00334-008-0184-4


Archaeobotanical investigations of three waterlogged sites of the migration and the early Merovingian periods throw new light on agriculture and human diet of the Germanic tribe of the Alamanni in southwestern Germany from the 3rd to the 6th century a.d. Agriculture was based on the growing of a large variety of cereals: Hordeum, Triticum dicoccon, T. spelta, Secale cereale, T. monococcum, T. aestivum, Avena sativa and Panicum miliaceum. Hordeum was most frequent. It occurs as naked and as hulled barley. In a grave with wet preserved plant macrofossils dated to the 6th century in Trossingen, Hordeum distichon was also present. In addition, the Alamanni cultivated the oil and fibre plants Linum usitatissimum, Papaver somniferum, Cannabis sativa, Camelina and Brassica rapa, as well as the pulses Lens culinaris and Pisum sativum. More surprising were finds of vegetables and spices. Among them, Juniperus communis and Humulus lupulus could have been gathered in the wild, but Coriandrum sativum, Apium graveolens and Satureja montana must have been cultivated in gardens. In addition to wild gathered material Pyrus, Malus, Prunus avium and Ficus carica also occurred, which were most probably grown in orchards or were even imported. Therefore the Alamanni were not only farmers growing cereals and other field crops, but they also had gardens and orchards were they grew vegetables, spices and fruits. Most probably they learned horticulture from the Romans when they settled near the border of the Roman Empire. This investigation shows in an impressive way how much more information can be gathered when waterlogged plant material is available, especially concerning fruits and spices.


Migration period Merovingian period Macrofossils Pollen Garden plants Weeds 

Supplementary material

334_2008_184_MOESM1_ESM.xls (99 kb)
ESM (XLS 99 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium StuttgartHemmenhofenGermany

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