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Identifying the intensity of crop husbandry practices on the basis of weed floras1

  • Glynis Jones (a1), Amy Bogaard (a1), Paul Halstead (a1), Michael Charles (a1) and Helen Smith (a1)...

A question of broad economic and social significance is the extent to which farming in prehistoric times, and perhaps even in historical times, was characterised by cultivation on a small scale and with intensive methods. Archaeobotanically, a distinction may be possible between intensive and extensive cultivation on the basis of the weed seeds associated with ancient grain samples. To this end, an ecological study was carried out in central Ewia of the weeds of winter-sown pulses grown both intensively in gardens and extensively in fields. The recorded weed flora was demonstrably influenced by relevant husbandry variables, such as method of tillage (with hoe or plough), weeding, manuring and soil organic content. The closest correspondence, however, was with the size, type and location of cultivated plots, suggesting that the weed flora was determined by a combination of these husbandry variables. In conclusion, the potential is briefly discussed of disentangling these variables for application in an archacobotanical context.

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2 e.g. Braun-Blanquet, J., Prodome des groupements végétaux, classe de Rudereto-Secalinetales (fascicle 3: Montpellier, 1936): Tüxen, R., ‘Grundriß einer Systematik der nitrophilen Unkrautgesellschaften in der Eurosibirischen Region Europas’. Mitteilungen der Floristisch-soziohgischen Arbeitsgemeinsihaft, 2 (1950), 9175; Ellenberg, H., Düll, R., Wirth, V., Werner, W. and Paulissen, D., ‘Zeigerwerte von Pflanzen in Mitteleuropa’, Scripta geobotanica, 18 (1992) 1258; Oberdorfer, E., Pflanzensoziologische Exkursionsflora (17th edn: Stuttgart, 1994); but see Hüppe, J. and Hofmeister, H., ‘Syntaxonomische Fassung und Übersicht über die Ackerunkrautgescllschaften der Bundesrepublik Deulschland’. Berichte der Reinhardt Tüxen-Gesellsehaft, 2 1990), 6181. Phytosociology classifies vegetation into associations based on the co-occurrence of species in the field; these associations are arranged in a hierarchical system of classification based on similarity in floristic composition, with associations being grouped into alliances, alliances into orders, and orders into classes. These phytosociological groupings or communities are collectively known as syntaxa and the classification of communities as syntaxonomy. Communities are mainly defined by the presence of certain ‘character species.’ which are restricted to a certain syntaxon. For an introduction see Westhoff, V. and van der Maarel, E., ‘The Braun-Blanquet approach’, in Whittaker, R. H. (edi. Handbook of Vegetation Science 5: Ordination and Classification of Communities (The Hague, 1973), 619727.

3 e.g. Knörzer, K.-H., ‘Urgeschichtliche Unkräuter im Rheinland, ein Beitrag zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Segetalgesellschaften’, Vegetatio, 23 (1971), 89111; Willerding, U., ‘Paläo-ethnobotanischen Untersuchungen über die Entwicklung von Pflanzengesellschaften’, in Williams, O. and Tüxen, R. (eds), Werden und Vergehen von Pflanzengesellschaften (Braunschweig, 1979), 61109; id., ‘Ur- und frühgeschichtliche sowic mittelalterliche Unkrautfunde in Mitteleuropa’. Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pflanzenschutz, 9 (1981), 65-74; id., ‘Paläoethnobotanik und Ökologie’, Festschrift für Heinz Ellenberg: Verhandlungen der Gesellscchaft für Ökologie, 11 (1983), 489–503: Behre, K.-E. and Jacomet, S., ‘The ecological interpretation of archaeobotanical data’, in van Zeist, W., Wasylikowa, K. and Behre, K.-E. (eds), Progress in Old World Palaeoethnobotany (Rotterdam, 1991), 81108.

4 e.g. Groenman-van Waateringe, W., ‘The origin of crop weed communities composed of summer annuals’, Vegetatio, 41 (1979), 57–9; Gluza, I., ‘Neolithic cereals and weeds from the locality of the Lengyel Culture at Nowa Huta-Mogila near Cracow’, Acta Palaeobotanica, 23 (1983), 123–84: Behre, K.-E., ‘Kulturpflanzen und Unkräuter der vorrömischen Eisenzeit aus der Siedlung Rullstorf, Ldkr. Lüneburg’, Nachrichten aus. Niedersachsens Urgeschichte, 59 (1990), 141–65.

5 e.g. Wasylikowa, K., ‘Early and late medieval plant remains from Wawel Hill in Cracow (9/10th to 15th century A.D.)’, Berichte der Deutschen Batanischen Gesellschaft, 91 (1978), 107–20; ead., Plant remains from early and late medieval time found on the Wawel Hill in Cracow’. Acta Palaeobotanica, 19 (1978), 115200; Kroll, H., ‘Pflanzliche Großreste vom Siedlungshügel bei Kastanas’. in Hänsel, B.. ‘Ergebnisse der Grabungen bei Kastanas in Zentralmakedonien. 1975–1978’. Jahresheft des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz, 26 (1979), 229–39; id., kastanas: Ausgrabungen in einem Siedlungshügel der Bronze-und Eisenzeit Makedoniens 1975–1979: die Pflanzenfunde (Berlin, 1983); id., ‘Zur eisenzeitlichen Wintergetreide-Unkrautflora von Mitteleuropa: mit Analysenbeispielen archäologischer pflanzlicher Großreste aus Feudvar in der Vojvodina. aus Greding in Bayern und aus Dudelange in Luzembourg’, PZ 72 (1995), 106-14.

6 e.g. Willerding, U., ‘Paläo-ethnobotanische Befunde an mittelalterlichen Pflanzenresten aus Süd-Niedersachsen, Nord-Hessen und dem östlichen Westfalen’, Berichte der Deutschen Botanischen Gesellschaft, 91 (1978), 6574: id. 1979 (n. 3 1983); Lundslröm-Baudais, K., ‘Paleo-ethnobotanical investigation of plant remains from a neolithic lakeshore site in France: Clairvaux. Station III’, in van Zeist, W. and Casparie, W. A. (eds), Plants and Ancient Man (Rotterdam, 1984), 293305: Jacomet, S., Brombacher, C., and Dick, M., Archäobotanik am Zürichsee (Berichte der Zürcher Denkmalpflege Monog. 7; Zurich. 1989), esp. 144; id., ‘Ackerbaulichen Aktivitäten und Landnutzung’. in J. Schibler, H. Hüster-Plogmann, S. Jacomet, C. Brombacher, E. Gross-Klee, and A. Rast-Eicher (eds), Ökonomie und Ökologie neolithischer und bronzezeitlicher Ufersiedlungen am Zürichsee (Monographien der Kantonsarchäologie Zürich 20; Zurich. 1997). 254–72.

7 Lundström-Baudais, K., ‘Etude paléobotanique de la station III de Clairvaux’. in Pétrequin, P. (ed). Les sites littoraux de Clairvaux-les-Lacs (Jura) (Paris, 1986), 311404; Jones, G., ‘Agricultural practice in Greek prehistory’, BSA 82 (1987), 115–23; ead., Weed phytosociology and crop husbandry: identifying a contrast between ancient and modern practice’, in Pals, J. P., Buurman, J. and van der Veen, M. (eds), Festschrift for Professor van Zeist: Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 73 (1992), 133–43.

8 e.g. Goody, J., Production and Reproduction (Cambridge. 1976): Sherratt, A., ‘Plough and pastoralism: aspeets of the secondary products revolution’. in Hodder, I.. Isaac, G. and Hammond, X. (eds), Pattern of the Past: Studies in Honour of David Clarke (Cambridge. 1981), 261305: Halstead, P., ‘Counting sheep in neolithic and bronze age Greece’, in Hodder, I.Isaac, G., and Hammond, X. (eds), Pattern of the Past: Studies in Honour of David Clarke (Cambridge, 1981), 307–39: id., ‘Plough and power: the economic and social significance of cultivation with the ox-drawn aid in the Mediterranean’. Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture. 8 (1995), 11-22: Hodkinson, S., ‘Animal husbandry in the Greek polis’. in Whittaker, C. R. (ed). Pastoral Economies in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge Philological Society supp. vol. 14: Cambridge, 1988), 3574: Acheson, P. E., ‘Does the “economic explanation” work? Settlement, agriculture and erosion in the territory of Haliei in the Late Classical-Early Hellenistic period’. JMA 10 (1998), 165–90.

9 Mavrommatis, G., Χάρτης βλαστήσεως τῆς Ἑλλάδος (Athens, 1978).

10 IGME, Γεωλογικός χάρτης της Ελλάδος 1:50 000: Φύλλον Κύμη (Athens, 1981). This map covers only the north-east part of the study area. but adjoining sheets are, as yet unpublished.

11 Cf. Sampson, A., Σκοτεινή. θαρρούνιον: το σπήλαιο. ο οικισμός και το νεκροταΦείο (Athens, 1993), 254–62.

12 Parr, J. F. and Hornick, S. B., ‘Rehabilitation of degraded agricultural soils with organic wastes’, in Whitman, C. E., Parr, J. F., Papendick, R. I., and Meyer, R. E. (eds), Soil. Water, and Crop/Livestock Management Systems for Rainfed Agriculture in the Near East Region (Washington DC, 1989), 278–87; Rothamsted Experimental Station, Details of the Classical and Long-term Experiments up to 1967 (Harpenden, 1970), 62 table 24.

13 Halstead, P., ‘Traditional and ancient rural economy in Mediterranean Europe: plus ça change?JHS 107 (1987), 7787; Halstead, P. and Jones, G., ‘Agrarian ecology in the Greek islands’. JHS 109 (1989), 4155.

14 Jones, G., Charles, M., Colledge, S., and Halstead, P., ‘Towards the archaeobotanical recognition of winter-cereal irrigation: an investigation of modern weed ecology in northern Spain’, in Kroll, H. and Pasternak, R. (eds), Res Archaeobotanicae—9th Symposium IWGP (Kiel, 1995), 4968.

15 Palmer, C., An exploration of the effects of crop rotation regime on modern weed floras’. Environmental Archaeology. 2 (1998), 3952.

16 See Hill, M. O., ‘Reciprocal averaging: an eigenvector method of ordination’. Journal of Ecology. 61 (1973), 237–49: R. H. G. Jongman. C.J. ter Braak. and O. F. R. van Tongeren. Data Analysis in Community and Landscape Ecology Wageningen. 1987): Jones, G., ‘Numerical analysis in archaeobotany’. in van Zeist, W.. Wasylikowa, K.. and Behre, K.-E. (eds), Progress in Old World Palaeoethnobotany (Rotterdam. (1991), 6378.

17 ter Braak, C.J. F., A FORTRAN Program for Canonical Community Ordination by (Partial) (Detrended) (Canonical) Correspondence Analysis and Redundancy Analysisis (Version 2.1) (Wageningen. 1988).

18 Hill, M. O., DECORANA A FORTRAN Program for Detrended Correspondence Analysis and Reciprocal Averaging (New York. 1979).

19 Jongman et al. (n. 16).

20 Smilauer, P., CANODRAW 3.0 User's Guide (London. 1992).

21 Cf. Jones et al. (n. 14).

22 Oberdorfer, E., ‘Über Unkrautgesellschaften der Balkanhalbinsel’. Vegetatio. 4 (1954), 379411: Lavrendiadis, G. I., ‘Über die Unkrautgesellschaftenin Feldern von Oräokastron. Reg. Bez. Saloniki’. Documents phytosociologiques. 4 (1961), 571–84: Walther, K., ‘Halmfrucht-Gesellschaften in Griechenland’. Vegetatio. 18 (1969), 263–72.

23 Ellenberg et al. in. (n. 2): Oberdorfer (n. 2).

24 Parr and Hornick (n. 12).

25 Forbes, H., ‘The “thrice-ploughed field”: cultivation techniques in ancient and modern Greece’. Expedition. 19 (1976), 511.

26 Charles, M., Jones, G., and Hodgson, J. G., ‘FIBS in archaeobotany: functional interpretation of weed floras in relation to husbandry practices’. JAS 24 (1997), 1151–61: Bogaard, A., Hodgson, J. G., Wilson, P. J., and Band, S. R., ‘An index of weed size for assessing the soil productivity ancient crop fields’. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. 7 (1998), 1722: A. Bogaard. C. Palmer. G. Jones. M. Charles, and J. G. Hodgson. ‘A FIBS approach to the use of weed ecology for the archaeobotanical recognition of crop rotation regimes’. JAS in press.

1 Thanks are due to Diamantis Sampson for suggesting Tharounia as a suitable focus for this study: to Tony Wood for providing a house and introductions to farmers, and, together with Christina Rushe, for assistance with fieldwork: to the residents of Tharounia, Gaia, Manikia, and Partheni for their tolerance of our intrusions into their fields and gardens, and, particularly, to Vasso Kadditi, Voula Mole, ‘Skantzourina’ Palogou, and Kostas Kapenis of Tharounia for information on local farming; to Irini Valianatou and John Hodgson for help with identification of pressed specimens; to Carol Palmer for helpful discussions on manure: to Colin Merrony for drawing, and patiently redrawing. FIG. I: and to Valasia Isaakidou for helping with the Greek abstract. The field study was funded by the Science and Engineering Research Council. The final stages of this research were supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship awarded to Dr G. Jones.

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Annual of the British School at Athens
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