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Title: A study of European cereal frequency change during the Iron Age and Roman periods
Author: Mills, Tim
ISNI:       0000 0001 3409 9449
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2007
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This study addresses cereal frequency shifts throughout the Iron Age and Roman Periods in seven European countries. A database of charred archaeobotanical assemblages was compiled and sample-based correspondence analysis employed to reveal chronological patterning. Findings were evaluated with respect to a range of archaeological, ancient textual and modem agronomic evidence and in relation to economic suppositions about cereal production, consumption and exchange. Three types of cereal shifts/trends were documented, which were not necessarily universal and, which varied spatially, temporally and in magnitude. These shifts/trends were: (1) an increase in the proportion of wheat relative to barley which was chronologically associated with the Roman period; (2) an increase in proportion of spelt wheat relative to emmer wheat which, having begun during the Bronze Age in central European regions, continued into the Iron Age and Roman periods; and (3) an increase in the proportion of free threshing wheat relative to spelt and/or emmer, which appears to gain momentum in some countries during the Roman Period. It is argued that social and economic factors were driving cereal change in the direction of greater choice, quality, yield, productivity and refinement. Farmers were reaching for taxa which might accommodate new and old demands in a better and more efficient manner. Differences between the timing and extent of these shifts suggest that farmers crossed over to different taxa when they had exhausted the developmental potential of traditional types. Cereal shifts were enabled by technical innovations which ameliorated environmental stress factors and market developments, which compensated farmers for taking greater risks. The shifts were driven by demands for taxa with increased versatility and the need to specialize in types of wheat which offered profitability. A hypothesis is offered which posits that there was a tendency to shift towards higher level allopolyploid wheat taxa wheat because these conferred naturally high levels-of functional elasticity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available