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Title: 'The Silk Road hybrids' : cultural linkage facilitated the transmigration of the remontant gene in Rosa x damascena, the Damask rose, in circa 3,500 BCE from the river Amu Darya watershed in Central Asia, the river Oxus valley of the Classics, to Rome by 300 BCE
Author: Mattock, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 7435
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2017
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The only rose species carrying the remontant gene were thought to be Rosa chinensis and Rosa rugosa whose geographical distributions lie well to the east of, and isolated from, Central Asia; and Rosa fedtschenkoana whose distribution extends only as far East as Uzbekistan. This thesis proposes instead, that commencing in circa 3,500 BCE cultural linkage facilitated the transmigration of the remontant gene in Rosa x damascena, the Damask rose in horticultural nomenclature, from the river Amu Darya watershed in Central Asia, to Rome by 300 BCE. Remontancy in western garden roses was thought to have been introduced into Western Europe in the form of the Damasks by 15th. Century, and more certainly in four Rosa chinensis hybrids, from China into Britain by 1780. This research found evidence in the works of Classical writers, notably Columnella, Dioscorides, Pliny, Theophrastus and Virgil, that the remontant Rosa x damascena was cultivated in Rome by 300 BC. They variously named the repeat flowering rose Rosa x damascena, the Damask, or the 'rose of Paestum' as the 'pestane rose', or 'biferique rosaria Paesti'. These writers described the cultivation of the rose from 'suckers', a word that this research shows, was misleadingly, mistranslated. This research supports the DNA analysis in 2000 of Iawata et al, which demonstrates that, Rosa gallica, R. moschata and R. fedtschenkoana are the parents of the Damask. Plotting, recently revised, geographical distributions of the Damask's parents show an overlap. This overlap shows that not only natural hybridisation between the three parents was possible, but significantly the overlap, the point of origin of Rosa x damascena, is located within the river Amu Darya watershed. The Classical writers describe the location, the date, and the process, for the production of rose water from the petals of the Damask. This cultural link between the Damask, and rose water production, evidenced the transmigration of the rose from Central Asia, through Persia, Turkey and the Middle East, and from there to Rome. Locations for rose water manufacture, plotted on a map, correlate with the route of what is now known as, The Silk Road. In support of the practical, horticultural viability of this transmigration, a field survey in 2015 revealed that the methods of transporting plant material, the method of propagation, and the cultivation of the rose in the hot, harsh and arid climate of the Dadès Valley in Morocco today, mirror the methods practiced in similar climatic conditions along the Silk Road in antiquity. Research shows that rose water has been used in religious ceremony for at least 4000 years, throughout Central Asia, Persia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Surprisingly, no evidence has been found to show that spread of the Damask correlates with the spread of faiths and beliefs, that is, until the spread of the Moslem faith from 700 CE. Conversely the spread of the use of rose water in medicine, hygiene, sanitation and fragrancing are well documented by the Classic writers. Research into the pharmacology of rose water, and its use in the treatment of a wide range of ailments, shows that in antiquity, the same ailments were successfully treated in Central Asia, as they were in Rome. In conclusion, Rosa x damascena, the Damask rose, together with its remontant characteristic, extended it geographical distribution from Central Asia from 3500BCE, to Rome by 300 CE, incentivised by man's demand for and health, hygiene and fragrance. Despite this cultural linkage, there is a paucity of evidence for the establishment of the Damask spreading further west as a garden plant, until the 18th. Century. Since then, rose hybridists have used the Damask to breed the remontant, large flowered, fragrant western garden hybrids much loved by gardeners today.
Supervisor: Harney, Marion ; Beeching, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available