Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 775–788 | Cite as

Farming in a rural settlement in central Italy: cultural and environmental implications of crop production through the transition from Lombard to Frankish influence (8th–11th centuries a.d.)

  • Mauro Buonincontri
  • Daniela Moser
  • Emilia Allevato
  • Boris Basile
  • Gaetano Di Pasquale
Original Article

Abstract

Plant macrofossil (carpological) and morphometric analyses were carried out on plant remains from the medieval castle of Miranduolo, Siena, a rural settlement in central Italy with a long sequence of occupation between the 8th and the 11th centuries a.d. The presence of Triticum aestivum/durum and Vicia faba var. minor from the first phase of the Lombard farming village suggests continuity with the agricultural tradition of the preceding Roman world, and the use of good cultivation techniques that allowed quality yields to be obtained from rather poor soils. At the same time, the significant presence of the primitive cereal T. monococcum, compared with the archaeobotanical literature of north-central Italy, allows to us consider it as a “cultural” element of Lombard farming. In the next cultural phases, with the Carolingian manor and then with the feudal castle, the stable presence of T. aestivum/durum and the reduction of T. monococcum in favour of more productive cereals such as Secale cereale and Hordeum vulgare indicate a further improvement in productivity. This is also confirmed by the appearance of fruits and nuts such as Castanea sativa, Vitis vinifera and Prunus persica. The increase in caryopsis sizes of T. monococcum and T. aestivum/durum in the transition from the village to the manorial phase is a consequence of the improvements in farming. The decrease in caryopsis size of T. monococcum from the manor phase to that of the castle testifies the decreasing importance of this cereal. The good date resolution of this research allows us to detect the crops, the storage and the processing practices, as well as the changing role of crop plants in the rural economy. This highlights the geographical, historical-cultural and political factors of the medieval transition from the Lombard to the Carolingian and then to the feudal period in central Italy.

Keywords

Farming history Middle Ages Seeds/fruits Morphometric analysis Triticum aestivum/durum Triticum monococcum 

Supplementary material

334_2013_429_MOESM1_ESM.doc (307 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 307 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mauro Buonincontri
    • 1
  • Daniela Moser
    • 1
  • Emilia Allevato
    • 1
  • Boris Basile
    • 1
  • Gaetano Di Pasquale
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Vegetation History and Wood Anatomy, Department of AgricultureUniversity of Naples “Federico II”PorticiItaly

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