The palaeoethnobotany of the West House Akrotiri, Thera : a case study
This study deals with the archaeobotany of the West House, a Late Bronze Age house at Akrotiri, on the island of Thera, Cyclades, Greece. The island is also known as Santorini. Due to a volcanic eruption (c.1600 B.C.) which covered the whole town with ash, the settlement site of Akrotiri, has been preserved in its pristine state. This enables us to find all the storage contexts within the West house in an ash-sealed state, with absolute certainty of contemporaneity of contexts, structures and material culture. This thesis examines the results of archaeological contexts for botanical data, to provide information on agriculture, crop processing and storage. Preservation of seeds was in the form of charred, silicified, and mineralized material. Our spectrum of crops has increased with the addition of two species: cf.Lathyrus clymenum and Lupinus cf.albus, thus increasing the number of cultivated pulses known from the Late Bronze Age Aegean. Crops were cf. Lathyrus clymenum (a new find as a L.B.A. crop), Lens culinaris, Pisum sativum, Hordeum vulgare, H.distichum, Triticum monococcum. Other important crops included Ficus carica, Vitis vinifera and Olea europaea. A third group of possible crop plants included Lathyrus cicera/L.sativus, Lupinus cf. albus, Vicia ervilia, Linum usitatissimum and Coriandrum sativum. The find of crops in the latest stage just before consumption is unique for archaeobotanical material and includes split legumes, bulgur-type cracked barley, and flour. Work was also carried out on segetal and ruderal weed seeds to provide information on crop processing, field fragmentation, field contamination, and insect infestation.