Plant remains in an Etruscan-Roman well at Cetamura del Chianti, Italy

Abstract

An abundance of plant remains (pollen, seeds/fruits and wood) and wood artefacts was found during the excavation of an Etruscan-Roman well located at Cetamura del Chianti in Tuscany, Italy, which contained rich cultural and ecofact assemblages in a stratified context. The findings provide evidence for the presence of a mixed oak forest during the time span of the usage of the well. The main decline of deciduous Quercus, possibly due to forest clearance, is recorded during the late Etruscan period (ca. 300–100/50 B.C.). A diffusion of Quercus ilex occurred during the Roman period (from ca. 50 B.C. to 68 A.D.). Food plants are well represented in the well, particularly cereals and grapevine. The morphometric analysis of the grape pips suggests that fully domesticated forms were cultivated, and that wild fruits may have been gathered in the woods or harvested from weakly domesticated individuals. Some botanical finds could possibly be linked to ritual practices, although the state of preservation of the seed/fruit record, the majority waterlogged, does not meet criteria for carbonized remains used for attributing the plant remains to ritual offerings.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Lorella Dell’Olmo (Università di Firenze) for the help in preparing the figures, and the anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions. The authors wish to thank Francesco Cini and the archeologists of the Cooperativa Ichnos, Archeologia, Ambiente e Sperimentazione s.c.r.l. of Montelupo Fiorentino who recovered micro- and macroremains during excavation.

The Etruscan and Roman materials were the focus of the museum exhibition “Wells of Wonders: New Discoveries at Cetamura del Chianti” at the Museo Nazionale Archeologico at Florence (MAF), June 9–Sept. 30, 2017 (de Grummond 2017).

Funding

Funding was provided by the Arts and Humanities Program Enhancement Grant (AHPEG) from the Florida State University and by the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico. The contribution of L. Bouby and J.-F. Terral was supported by Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-16-CE27-0013-01) program “Viniculture.”

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Mariotti Lippi, M., Mori Secci, M., Giachi, G. et al. Plant remains in an Etruscan-Roman well at Cetamura del Chianti, Italy. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 12, 35 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00992-4

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Keywords

  • Palynology
  • Wood/charcoal analysis
  • Carpology
  • Morphometry
  • Grapevine domestication