Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 789–804 | Cite as

The archaeobotany of long-term crop storage in northwest African communal granaries: a case study from pre-Hispanic Gran Canaria (cal. ad 1000–1500)

  • Jacob Morales
  • Amelia Rodríguez-Rodríguez
  • María del Cristo González-Marrero
  • Ernesto Martín-Rodríguez
  • Pedro Henríquez-Valido
  • Miguel del-Pino-Curbelo
Original Article

Abstract

Communal granaries are a widespread and very significant feature of northwest Africa. Here the first systematic archaeobotanical study of such a granary is presented, with desiccated plant macro-remains retrieved from the pre-Hispanic site of El Álamo-Acusa, Gran Canaria, Spain (cal. ad 1000–1500). While modern contamination caused by animals was evident, most plant remains found there were ancient, including cereals, pulses, cultivated fruits and wild gathered plants. Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare and Ficus carica were the most common taxa, which appear to have been the two main staple foods for the pre-Hispanic population. The high frequencies of chaff and other plant residues indicate that crops were stored unprocessed. Most food plants had been eaten by insects and other animals, and only unpalatable parts were present. Remains of Sitophilus granarius (grain weevil) were common in the samples, suggesting problems of insect pests during long-term storage. In addition, we have identified leaves of cf. Laurusnovocanariensis, which may have been used as an insect repellent.

Keywords

Plant storage Crop processing Insect pest Insect repellent plants Canary islands Pre-Hispanic 

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 kb)
334_2014_444_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (6.1 mb)
Content of Silo 8 (JPEG 6203 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob Morales
    • 1
  • Amelia Rodríguez-Rodríguez
    • 1
  • María del Cristo González-Marrero
    • 1
  • Ernesto Martín-Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Pedro Henríquez-Valido
    • 1
  • Miguel del-Pino-Curbelo
    • 1
  1. 1.G.I. Tarha, Departamento Ciencias HistóricasUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain

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