Crop growing and gathering in the northern German Neolithic: a review supplemented by new results

Kirleis, W., Klooss, S., Kroll, H. and Müller, J. (2012) Crop growing and gathering in the northern German Neolithic: a review supplemented by new results Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 21 (3). pp. 221-242.

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Abstract

New archaeobotanical results from 15 Neolithic sites in northern Germany are presented in a review of the Neolithic plant economy in northern and north-western Europe. Available archaeobotanical data from north-western Europe are evaluated and compared with our new results. In the whole region, barley and emmer were the main crops. Regional and diachronic differences are observed in the cultivation of einkorn, spelt and naked wheat. For oil plants and pulses only rare information from macro remains is available, as we mainly deal with charred material. It is noticeable that gathered plants played an important role in the Funnel Beaker economy. Plant choice, especially the relevance of cultivated versus gathered plants is discussed, based on new and existing data. Based on a structural comparison of charred plant assemblages from domestic sites and tombs, we develop a research hypothesis that settlement finds provide insight into production and consumption of food from crops, while tombs mainly yield evidence of plants gathered in the wild or in semi-wild areas in the vicinity of former settlements. Therefore, we suggest a model of different purposes and meanings of plants, depending on whether primarily an economic or a social/ritual sphere is regarded. But, for all evaluations and interpretations, it is essential to consider the taphonomic processes and conditions. Therefore, further research is necessary to verify our hypothesis, which derives from first insights into new material.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: Univ Kiel, Inst Prehist & Protohist Archaeol, Grad Sch Human Dev Landscapes, D-24098 Kiel, Germany. Kirleis, W (reprint author), Univ Kiel, Inst Prehist & Protohist Archaeol, Grad Sch Human Dev Landscapes, Johanna Mestorf Str 2-6, D-24098 Kiel, Germany. wiebke.kirleis@ufg.uni-kiel.de
Keywords: Neolithic Plant economy Foraging Megalithic tombs Settlements plant remains food
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
ISSN: 0939-6314
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 09:58
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2014 08:53
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/24061

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