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The olive and the vine in European Prehistory


The cultivation, domestication and intensive exploitation of the vine and the olive transformed the agricultural, economic and social history of Europe. Without these crops and their products, wine and oil, the environment, landscape, farming, and trade would have been entirely different. This project will reconstruct the biogeography of the olive and the vine, explore their diffusion and routes of movement into Europe, and define the processes behind their early exploitation, and understand the beginnings of arboriculture in Europe. Additional objectives will be to detect whether separate domestication episodes occurred within Europe, and advance our understanding of crop domestication, management strategies and varietal histories. The project will examine methods of wine and olive oil making, associate them with archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence, and define the related changes that occurred in agricultural, economic and social organization. Case studies will be used from the Aegean and Cyprus, the crossroads between Asia and Europe. The timeframe of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium encompasses the transition from gathering to cultivation, domestication and then to organized vineyards and olive groves, the production of wine and olive oil and the creation of a new social and economic realities. Building on the applicant’s expertise in archaeobotanical analysis, a multidisciplinary framework includes training in new techniques for studying archaeobotanical remains, charcoal analysis, and archaeogenetics. Training will be provided and the project hosted by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, an international centre of excellence in these areas. Data analysis and interpretation will confront the fundamentally transformative effect of the olive and the vine, mapping the communication of ideas and movements of commodities on ever larger scales, underpinning their formative role in the creation of wider European society.

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Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 299 558,40
Administrative Contact
Renata Schaeffer (Ms.)