image/svg+xml63XIV/1/2023INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euArchaeobotanical Evidence of Funerary Plant Oferings at the Southern Etrurian Necropolis of “Valle Santa nell’Agro Veientano” (Rome, Italy)Claudia Moricca1*, Alessio De Cristofaro2, Laura Ambrosini31Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy2Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Roma, Piazza dei Cinquecento 67, 00185 Rome, Italy3Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Strada Provinciale 35d, 9, 00010 Montelibretti (RM), Italy1. IntroductionEtruscans are a non-Indo-European population of preclassical Italy, whose culture developed between the 7thand the 3rdcenturies BC in central Italy (Vernesi et al., 2004). While Etruria sensu strictu is framed by the rivers Arno and Tiber, the commercial and political expansion of Etruscans reached the Po Valley (north) and Campania(south; Bianchi Bandinelli and Torelli, 2008; Stoddart et al., 2019). Their cities were independent city-states that shared a religion and a language. While the Etruscan culture is believed to have developed locally, archaeological evidence suggests an eastern infuence (Vernesi et al., 2004).Etruscan human-plant relations are still under-explored, with archaeobotanical studies often being restricted to single contexts and published as short sections in archaeological reports. The Brain network and database (Mercuri et al., 2015; Mariotti Lippi et al., 2018) has proved to be a useful tool to perform bibliographic research, allowing the quick identifcation of relevant publications. To our knowledge, only ten Etrurian archaeological sites have been studied in terms of plant remains (Mercuri et al., 2015; Figure 1). Of these, Pyrgi (Coccolini and Follieri, 1980), Tarquinia (Rottoli, 2005), Veio (Celant, 2009), Vulci (Marchesini et al., 2014) are found in Latium. This selection is expanded by also considering the sites in the Po Valley, such as the settlement of Arginone in Mirandola (Accorsi et al., 1992), and Campania (e.g., Fratte – Colaianni et al., 2009). Another distinction can be made based on the type of context, with plant remains from funerary contexts being studied only in Petriolo (Milanesi, 2018), Tarquinia (Rottoli, 2005), Vulci (Marchesini et al., 2014) and Verucchio (Marchesini and Marvelli, 2002; Sala and Rottoli, 2018).1.1 The necropolis of “Valle Santa nell’Agro Veientano”The present study concerns the archaeobotanical analysis of soil sediments and vase fllings from Etruscan tombs from the Necropolis of “Valle Santa nell’Agro Veientano”, found Volume XIV ● Issue 1/2023 ● Pages 63–70*Corresponding author. E-mail: claudia.moricca@uniroma1.itARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received: 7thNovember 2022Accepted: 5thJanuary 2023DOI: words:Etruscansarchaeobotanycarpologyanthracologycentral ItalynecropolisABSTRACTThe present study concerns the archaeobotanical analysis of soil samples and vase fllings from Etruscan tombs from the Necropolis of “Valle Santa nell’Agro Veientano”, found along via di Boccea, north of Rome (Italy). While the site was in use between the Archaic and Late Roman Age, the studied vestibule tombs belong to the Etruscan necropolis (second half of the 6th– beginning of the 4thcenturies BC). Archaeological data, based on the incineration rite and funerary equipment, suggest that these were used by one high-status family (or two) originally from Veio.Carpological analyses reveal the presence of food plants comprised of cereals, pulses and fruits. Furthermore, anthracological data give indications concerning the past environment, with a prevalence of deciduous and semi-deciduous oaks, accompanied by other taxa such as evergreen oaks, hornbeam, ash and Rosaceae Prunoideae. This is in accordance with the present-day vegetation of northern Latium. Finally, remains of synanthropic weeds (e.g., Asteraceae, Caryophyllaceae and Polygonaceae) suggest a heavily anthropized environment.This study represents a step forward in the understanding of the still under-explored human-plant interactions of Etruscans.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2023 ● XIV/1 ● 63–70Claudia Moricca, Alessio De Cristofaro, Laura Ambrosini: Archaeobotanical Evidence of Funerary Plant Oferings at the Southern Etrurian Necropolis of “Valle Santa nell’Agro Veientano” (Rome, Italy)64in the proximity of km 11,500 of via di Boccea, north of Rome (Italy). The site was identifed during archaeological excavations carried out between 2011 and 2014 with the aim of performing preliminary verifcations of building projects (De Cristofaro et al., 2015). The use of the small but meaningful site is framed between the Archaic Age and the Late Roman Age (7th–1stcenturies BC). Of specifc interest for this study is an area south of the natural canal, intended for funerary use for a sepulchral district. Such a nucleus includes six “vestibule” tombs, dated between the end of the 6thand the beginning of the 4thcentury BC. All the investigated burials observe the incineration rite. The remains were found collected in clay vessels, in a cloth or in a perishable container, placed directly on the bottom of the relative niche. The spatial disposition of the tombs – four of which are very close and almost tangential, with the same orientation and side by side to form a single row, having rich funerary equipment (including a bronze bowl, glass paste balsam, a bronze mirror, a bronze strigil), and the use of the incineration rite suggest that they belonged to one (or possibly two) high-status families originally from Veio (De Cristofaro et al., 2015).2. Materials and MethodsSediment, including vase and bucchero chalicefllings, was collected from eight diferent tombs (V, VI a, VI b, VI d, VI d5, XIX a, XX a, and XX b) during the excavation work giving a total of 15 soil samples. Sediment from the stratigraphic units (SU) 62/160 belongs to Tomb XX, part a and part b. Nonetheless, a sample strictly from SU 160 was also collected. The soil samples were then stored at the deposit of the Drugstore Museum in via Portuense 317(Rome, Italy) until 2020 when they were brought to the Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Palynology at “Sapienza” University of Rome. Here, a known volume (11.7 l in total) of these soil sediments was processed through bucket fotation. Charred macro-remains foating on the water surface were collected on a 250 μm sieve. The remaining sediment was then water-sieved, using a 1 mm mesh, to retrieve any additional plant (for example, preserved through mineralisation) or animal remains. Once dry, samples were sieved on a series of nested sieves of mesh size 5, 2, 1 mm (and 0.5 mm in the case of the light fraction) to make hand-picking more efcient.2.1 Carpological remainsCarpological remains were observed using a Leica M205C stereomicroscope (magnifcation range 7.8× – 160×). High-resolution images were acquired through a Leica IC80 HD camera and the Leica Application Suite version 4.5.0 software and subsequently merged using Helicon Focus (version 6.6.1 Pro) to obtain well-focused images over the entire surface.Identifcation of carpological remains was performed through a series of atlases (Jacomet, 2006; Neef et al., 2012; Cappers and Bekker, 2013; Nesbitt, 2016; Sabato and Peña-Chocarro, 2021). The Euro+Med PlantBase