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|Agriculture in NW Iberia during the Bronze Age: a review of archaeobotanical data
|Tereso, João Pedro
Bettencourt, Ana M. S.
Seeds and fruits
|Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
|The wide and diverse array of palaeoenvironmental studies that were carried out in Northwestern Iberia indicate that the Bronze Age corresponds to a phase of great landscape changes. Strong deforestation and erosion episodes are key-features and they are usually assumed to be anthropogenic. The archaeological and archaeobotanical records demonstrate that these trends are coincident with modi!cations on settlement pattern and agricultural systems. This work consists on a thorough revision of carpological data from 19 Bronze Age sites in order to understand agricultural practices in the region in this time period. Results reveal the increasing relevance of Panicum miliaceum and decreasing presence of naked barley which contrast with the previous periods. Carpological remains are not available in Early Bronze Age sites.Middle Bronze Age crops include naked and hulled forms of barley (Hordeum spp.) and wheat (Triticum spp.). Only one site provided occasional grains of Panicum miliaceum. Non-cereal crops are rare and comprise Linum, Papaver, Pisum sativum and Vicia faba. Still, there are few Middle Bronze Age sites with crop macroremains. Late Bronze Age sites with carpological remains of crops are more abundant but no newcrop is added. This is the phase when Panicummiliaceum became a conspicuous crop in regional agricultural strategies. Overall, a small diversity of pulses is recorded throughout the Bronze Age, contrasting with other Iberian regions. Acorns (Quercus) are the onlywild fruits consistently present in the archaeological sites and they probably had some relevance within the regional subsistence. It was possible to detect changes on settlement and agricultural levels and suggest how these are related to environmental and social changes. It is argued that agricultural productivity increased and pits were the main storage facilities used by Bronze Age communities. Although these structures are abundant in several sites, caution is neededwhile interpreting themand their !lls. Only in one site – Freixo – remains of cropswere found in primary deposition in a storage pit. Increasing agricultural productivity, including functionally diverse winter and spring crops seems to have been connected to settlement diversi!cation. This trend may have led to a more complementary and profuse use of local resources, enhancing the anthropogenic changes in the landscape mentioned above. This was a further step in the territorialisation process thatwould eventually lead to the complex scenario recorded in the Iron Age.
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