image/svg+xml157 VIII/2/2017 INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICA NATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGY homepage: http://www.iansa.eu Maintenance of Underground Granaries in Medieval Towns; Case Study from Padowetz, Brno, Czech Republic Lenka Lisá a* , Marek Peška b , David Merta b , Miloš Gregor c a Institute of Geology CAS, Rozvojová 269, Prague 6, 165 00, Czech Republic b Archaia Brno, Bezručova 15/78, Brno, 602 00, Czech Republic c Independent researcher, Rovníková 8, 821 02 Bratislava, Slovakia 1. Introduction Underground granaries are silos dug in the ground to store cereals. These underground constructions constitute the traditional way of cereal storage in all Slavic countries up to the 18 th century (Kunz 2004). They are mainly typical for Early Medieval and Medieval rural environments (Donat 1980, 80–83; Dostál 1985, 40–43; Klanica 2008, 183–186; Kuna, Profantová et al. 2005, 117–118; Kudrnáč 1958; Nekuda, 2007, 49–51; Pleinerová 2000, 213) as well as in prehistory (Gašpar, in press). Rarely were underground granaries also built in towns. We detect them, for example, in Brno up to the 12 th , maximally 14 th century (Procházka 2012; 2013).The technology of granaries is nearly unknown in the Czech Republic. By contrast, in Slovakian lowlands around the river Donau and Tisa granaries were used up to the end of the Second World War (Kunz 2004). Some notes about the use of granaries in the Hungarian agricultural literature of 18 th and 19 th century may also be found (Kunz 2004). These storage pits usually do not occur in sandy soils and forested areas. The best conditions for the construction of granaries are the dry plains of north and south Mediterranean areas, in the plains around the Danube and the north coastal areas of the Black Sea, in the Middle East, in central Asia, or in southern Siberia. With good soil conditions, where there is minimal erosion, they have been preserved till the present day used by shepherds in steppe regions. The main factors in the spread in use of granaries are dry soil and little rain. That is why there is a diference between the northern limit for growing cereals and the northern limit in the historical occurrence of granaries. The southern limits show a similar picture. The prehistorical phase of granaries in central Europe shows a unity in their construction. The granaries were built the same way until people were converted to the modern way of agriculture (Kunz 2004). Up to now we have detected only a few such fndings dated to the period of the 13 th to 14 th centuries in the centre of Brno Volume VIII ● Issue 2/2017 ● Pages 157–165 *Corresponding author. E-mail: lisa@gli.cas.cz ARTICLE INFO Article history: Received: 28 th August 2017Accepted: 6 th November 2017 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.24916/iansa.2017.2.5 Key words: corny holesstorage pitsgeoarchaeologymicromorphologyphytoliths ABSTRACT Medieval underground granaries are typical storage facilities for the Slavic part of Europe, but their appearance generally all over Europe is not limited to just a few regions. Though typical for the rural environment of villages, these objects are nearly unknown in cities. The only examples excavated inside city walls belong to the 12 th to 14 th century. This also explains why the maintenance practices used are nearly unknown. The Medieval granary excavated inside the city walls of Brno, Czech Republic, has provided important information concerning the way the granary was maintained and used. Micromorphological descriptions, combined with the PRTG analyses, show that the excavated granary was probably used repeatedly. The walls of the granary and also its bottom had been repeatedly sealed with straw. This material was at the bottom of the infll preserved in a nearly fresh state or totally impregnated by phosphates. Also the phases of bioturbation and the record of a burning event were recorded. The burning of the interior parts of the granary was probably their way of cleaning. The temperature was not higher than 300̊ C. These practices may be compared with rural practices documented already in 18 th century in village areas. This is the frst documentation of the processes of maintenance for Medieval granaries as compared with more recently documented practices. It confrms that the local inhabitants of a Medieval town applied the older rural tradition as known from village areas.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2017 ● VIII/2 ● 157–165 Lenka Lisá, Marek Peška, David Merta, Miloš Gregor: Maintenance of Underground Granaries in Medieval Towns; Case Study from Padowetz, Brno, Czech Republic 158 (Procházka 2012, 1012; 2013). Generally the underground granaries are often pear-shaped, with small openings and diameters of up to three metres at their widest point (Kunz 2004). The underground granaries excavated up till now in the Brno town area are usually pear-shaped with diameters of 1.8 m (2.2 m respectively) reaching a depth of 3.6 metres. These have been detected mainly in the distal parts of burgher plots (Kobližná 3, Josefská 8, Starobrněnská 18; Procházka 2013, 110; 2012, 203; 2000, 58). Due to the fact that most of the plots demarcated in the second quarter of the 13 th century do not show any underground granary locations, we can connect their appearance mainly with the older rural tradition of the local inhabitants. While the need for cereals in the towns lasted, unlike in the villages there was no need to store added cereals for sowing. Additionally there was the need to store not only cereals, but also craft and other raw materials. The urban character of the sunken features at that time was usually already connected with the construction of earthen house cellars (Holub et al. 2005). The storage of the ceramic vessels (Nekuda, Reichertová 1968, 63; Procházka, Peška 2007, 168) used to store cereals had in fact replaced the need for underground granaries.To preserve the grain in an anaerobic environment, the pits were flled to the top and then hermetically sealed. The oxygen remaining in the silo would alter (decompose) the grain in contact with the earthen walls, but would be quickly used up as it turned to carbon dioxide. Cereals could thus be kept for several years without fermenting and without being attacked by insects. Among all these silos, certain cylindrical pits may be distinguished by their greater depth and by the existence of internal compartments associated with a raised foor. This arrangement solved the problem of excess humidity by creating an opening for coals or heated stones to be introduced, thus drying out the silo’s contents. We know that a part of the stored grain was thus steamed or grilled. These pits, which were normally grouped together a short distance from dwellings, were no doubt used to store excess grain from the harvest. After a period of use – which we believe to be relatively short – these silos were often converted into waste pits (Kunz 2004).There is a little known about the maintenance of underground granaries from the 12 th –14 th century, especially in the town environment of the city of Brno. The main aim of this paper is therefore an evaluation of the possible maintenance methods of the underground granary excavated at the edge of the Brno medieval burger plot, and the information value of such sedimentary records for understanding the medieval practices of these storage pits. 2. Material and methods The construction of an underground parking area for the Padowetz Hotel in 2008 (Bašty Street No. 2), was the