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Cultivation and processing of Linum usitatissimum and Camelina sativa in southern Scandinavia during the Roman Iron Age


Charred seed conglomerates of Linum usitatissimum (flax) and Camelina sativa (gold of pleasure) were found at Uppåkra 2:25, a Roman Iron Age site in Skåne, southern Sweden. The conglomerates showed no mixing with each other, as they were almost pure flax and gold of pleasure respectively. Together with other archaeobotanical data from the site, they provide new evidence on the use, processing and cultivation of these two plants in early Iron Age in Scandinavia. Metric analyses were applied to flax seeds from both conglomerates and other contexts at this site, and compared to seed assemblages from other Roman Iron Age sites in Europe. The comparison showed that the flax cultivation at Uppåkra 2:25 was intended for the production of oil-rich seeds. The contextual relationship indicates that both flax and gold of pleasure seeds were processed in a similar way and used for oil. Furthermore, the pure seed conglomerate of gold of pleasure suggests that this plant was not a weed, but rather an intentionally grown crop which was cultivated separately from flax.

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I wish to thank Per Lagerås and Lars Larsson for valuable discussions and comments on the manuscript, and Helmut Kroll and Wiebke Kirleis for valuable discussions. The outcome of this article is a collaboration with the Swedish National Heritage Board and I would like to thank all archaeologists involved in the project and especially Håkan Aspeborg.

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Communicated by M. Latałowa.

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Larsson, M. Cultivation and processing of Linum usitatissimum and Camelina sativa in southern Scandinavia during the Roman Iron Age. Veget Hist Archaeobot 22, 509–520 (2013).

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  • Linum usitatissimum
  • Camelina sativa
  • Iron Age
  • Uppåkra
  • Sweden