image/svg+xml223 VI/2/2015 INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICA NATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGY homepage: Thematic Review Exotic Spices in Flux: Archaeobotanical Material from Medieval and Early Modern Sites of the Czech Lands (Czech Republic) Michal Preusz a* , Kateřina Kodýdková a , Petr Kočár b , Zdeněk Vaněček c a University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Science, Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Palaeoecology, Branišovská 31a, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic b Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Letenská 123, 118 00, Prague, Czech Republic c Palacký University Olomouc, Faculty of Science, Department of Analytical Chemistry, 17. listopadu 12, 771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic 1. Introduction The remains of Medieval and Early Modern life can be seen at every step in the Czech countryside, there being a large number of Romanesque and Gothic castles, monasteries, towns and villages, which have later been rebuilt in the spirit of modernizing styles. Under these many reconstructions we can capture yet another dimension, from which we can gain archaeological, archaeobotanical and archaeozoological data. These can signifcantly enhance our “on-the-surface” awareness and in a unique way extend our knowledge about the everyday life, trade, diet and other activities of historical societies. From this perspective, the fndings of thousands of plant macro-residues can indicate the specifc relationships between plants and historical actors in the past, as well as represent archives of information about the paleoecology of surveyed sites. Even in these archives it is often possible to fnd unusual fndings: “curiosities”. Among the broad spectrum of fndings of plant macro-remains that are of exotic origin, it can be determined that Czech people only had access to them via trans-regional trade. These specifc taxa included spices that had been imported into the central European environment from Asia, and later on some from the New World (Figure 1). Europeans were fascinated not only by their exoticism but also their specifcity, other-worldly taste and medicinal properties. Archaeobotanical fnds of spices are an indication of the level of trade in exotic goods, its assimilation into different social environments and the level of luxury that was linked to exotic spices. Also, easily overlooked, local fndings suddenly overlap into a global Volume VI ● Issue 2/2015 ● Pages 223–236 *Corresponding author. E-mail: ARTICLE INFO Article history: Received: 23 rd April 2015 Accepted: 14 th December 2015 Key words: exotic spicesluxury foodimportsNew WorldAsiaEuropetrade routesconsumer societyarchaeobotany macro-remains ABSTRACT According to the core-periphery model of economic geography, the Medieval and Early Modern Czech lands can be called a semi-periphery. They are located in a hilly part of central Europe, in the shadows of the world’s naval powers. Over the centuries this location has greatly infuenced their domestic consumer society, in many ways lacking in self-suffciency and often having to rely on the import of foreign and exotic goods through a global sales network; amongst these rare goods were different kinds of spices. These imported species, specifcally assimilated, became not only an important part of the diet, but also a symbol of luxury. This paper presents the current state of research into exotic spices that have been discovered in archaeological contexts in today’s Czech Republic, and illustrates their importance for the interpretation of trade in exotic goods and the historical socio-cultural level of local consumers.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2015 ● VI/2 ● 223–236Michal Preusz, Kateřina Kodýdková, Petr Kočár, Zdeněk Vaněček: Exotic Spices in Flux: Archaeobotanical Material from Medieval and Early Modern Sites of the Czech Lands (Czech Republic) 224 dimension, showing the mechanisms in which the consumers of central European society operated (Orser 2008). 2. Materials and methods The data used in this article come from published Czech archaeobotanical research and also from unpublished data belonging to the authors of this article. Though in the articles the researched methods were not always discussed, most of the materials were processed by wet sieving with minimum sizes of mesh from 0.25 to 0.4 mm. Only one case of dry sieving was mentioned: being used to process dry material from the vault infll from Vladislav’s Hall in Prague (Table 1). Findings of spices clearly dominate in sediments from cesspits, followed by other wet contexts such as wells, water trenches and wet waste layers. Other fndings come from dry contexts such as vault inflls. In the series of published results, the archaeological context was not always clearly described, making it impossible to interpret the current situation (Figure 2).Archaeobotanical analyses answer many environmental and also archaeological questions. They bring insights to the reconstruction of landscapes in specifc time periods and show changes in vegetational cover; for the archaeologist, they can reconstruct human impact and show the structure of settlement areas. Macro-remains also provide information about the origin and distribution of plant species, as well 121111117 Feature well cultural layer waste layer cesspit vault back ll wooden gallery water trench Non de ned