Untangling the Taphonomy of Charred Plant Remains in Ritual Contexts: Late Antique and Medieval Churches and Graves from Croatia

Kelly Reed*, Victor Ghica, Ana Smuk, Anita Dugonjić, Marija Mihaljević, Slavica Filipović, Jaqueline Balen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Food has played a central role in death rituals throughout human history, yet finding evidence of these practices in the archaeological record can be problematic. In particular, linking charred plant remains to inhumation burials requires careful consideration of the taphonomic processes involved. Here we focus on the recovery of charred plant macro-remains from four Late Antique and medieval cemeteries and one late medieval church in Croatia. The results showed low densities of both charcoal and other charred plant macro-remains, suggesting that the remains are general settlement debris that was accidentally deposited within the cemeteries and church context. At Bribirska Glavica, the sampling of stratigraphic layers at the multi-level cemetery allowed a greater understanding of taphonomic processes and corroborated the identification of a rubbish dump linked to an adjacent Roman villa. The results provide important insights for future sampling strategies, including the importance of taking control samples outside the graves and radiocarbon dating to determine whether botanical remains are related to the burials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-174
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Volume47
Issue number3
Early online date4-Jan-2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Archaeobotany
  • Late Antiquity
  • Middle Ages
  • Inhumations
  • Grave sampling
  • Croatia
  • taphonomy

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