New evidence on the southeast Baltic Late Bronze Age agrarian intensification and the earliest AMS dates of Lens culinaris and Vicia faba

Abstract

This article explores the Late Bronze Age agrarian intensification in the south-east Baltic. In recent years several studies have illustrated that to date there is no solid evidence on Neolithic farming and that the agricultural history of the region was probably distinctly different in comparison to other parts of northern Europe. The recently excavated Kukuliškiai settlement (887–406 cal bc) in coastal Lithuania provides new data, which contribute to the discussion on the development of early farming in the south-east Baltic. Archaeobotanical analysis revealed that local Late Bronze Age communities cultivated a wide range of cereals and pulses, with consumption of wild plants being of minor importance. We also report the earliest finds of Lens culinaris in the region and the earliest AMS 14C dates on grains of Vicia faba and Avena sp. The composition of botanical assemblages also has some indications of manuring and landscape maintenance, presenting a possibility of permanent fields. Finally, we suggest that adoption and intensification of farming alongside other social, economic and technological innovations could have reached the region from the Nordic and Lusatian cultures via the Baltic Sea communication network.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Institute of Baltic Region History and Archaeology for providing financial support for sample dating. We are grateful for guidance and help with plant identification offered by Chris Stevens and Sue College, and also to Dorian Q Fuller and the UCL Institute of Archaeology for granting access to their facilities and seed reference collection. Finally, our special thanks go to Kristian Kristiansen and the rest of DIALPAST research school for valuable discussions on previous versions of this paper.

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Correspondence to Karolis Minkevičius.

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Minkevičius, K., Podėnas, V., Urbonaitė-Ubė, M. et al. New evidence on the southeast Baltic Late Bronze Age agrarian intensification and the earliest AMS dates of Lens culinaris and Vicia faba. Veget Hist Archaeobot 29, 327–338 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-019-00745-2

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Keywords

  • South-east Baltic
  • Late Bronze Age
  • Agriculture
  • Lithuania
  • Archaeobotany