Anthracological analysis has been carried out in the Medieval site of Miranduolo, a rural settlement in central Italy with a sequence of occupation between the 7th and 14th century AD. Between the 7th and mid-9th century AD, during the phase of a Lombard farming village, the strong presence of Castanea sativa as timber for building showed that chestnut was the preferred species for carpentry and fuelwood, suggesting coppice management of chestnut woods for timber production. The Miranduolo data, set against the archaeobotanical data in the literature, reject the hypothesis of chestnut cultivation as a fruit tree and corroborate the hypothesis that the plant was initially used for timber production, continuing the woodworking tradition of the Roman period. From the mid-9th century AD, during the Carolingian feudal system, chestnut in the feudal estate of Miranduolo ceased to be used for building and firewood, while deciduous Quercus was preferred. At the same time, chestnut fruits began to be picked and kept in warehouses at the disposal of the feudal lord. Comparison with existing archaeobotanical data revealed a geographical complexity in the cultural history of this tree, not allowing to extend the dynamics of Miranduolo to a wider area. From the 10th century, in Miranduolo chestnut was exploited both for timber and fruit suggesting the abundance of this resource in high managed stands. Comparison with coeval archaeological sources, archaeobotanical data and pollen records suggested from this period the beginning of a gradual expansion of this species that gradually took place throughout central and southern Italy. The current chestnut forest landscape in central Italy is thus of human origin, expanding and changing over about 1000 years of cultivation.

The transition of chestnut (Castanea sativa Miller) from timber to fruit tree: Cultural and economic inferences

Buonincontri, Mauro Paolo;SARACINO, ANTONIO;DI PASQUALE, GAETANO
2015

Abstract

Anthracological analysis has been carried out in the Medieval site of Miranduolo, a rural settlement in central Italy with a sequence of occupation between the 7th and 14th century AD. Between the 7th and mid-9th century AD, during the phase of a Lombard farming village, the strong presence of Castanea sativa as timber for building showed that chestnut was the preferred species for carpentry and fuelwood, suggesting coppice management of chestnut woods for timber production. The Miranduolo data, set against the archaeobotanical data in the literature, reject the hypothesis of chestnut cultivation as a fruit tree and corroborate the hypothesis that the plant was initially used for timber production, continuing the woodworking tradition of the Roman period. From the mid-9th century AD, during the Carolingian feudal system, chestnut in the feudal estate of Miranduolo ceased to be used for building and firewood, while deciduous Quercus was preferred. At the same time, chestnut fruits began to be picked and kept in warehouses at the disposal of the feudal lord. Comparison with existing archaeobotanical data revealed a geographical complexity in the cultural history of this tree, not allowing to extend the dynamics of Miranduolo to a wider area. From the 10th century, in Miranduolo chestnut was exploited both for timber and fruit suggesting the abundance of this resource in high managed stands. Comparison with coeval archaeological sources, archaeobotanical data and pollen records suggested from this period the beginning of a gradual expansion of this species that gradually took place throughout central and southern Italy. The current chestnut forest landscape in central Italy is thus of human origin, expanding and changing over about 1000 years of cultivation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/599072
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