Pollen Evidence for Regional Vegetation Change and Agricultural Practices in Greek and Early Roman Southern Italy

Authors: Donald Sullivan*, University Of Denver
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Biogeography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: pollen analysys, geoarchaeology, Roman agriculture
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


Pollen and plant macrofossil analysis of samples from the Greek Sanctuary at Pantanello provide a 500-year long record of land use and vegetation change in the region. The Sanctuary at Pantanello, located near the ancient city of Metaponto in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, was founded around a spring in the 6th century BCE and abandoned in the 3rd century. The site is located on wet ground that gradually became waterlogged, creating anaerobic conditions that preserved organic remains. Two sets of pollen samples were collected from the site: one collected from trenches dug in waterlogged soils, and a smaller group from stratified sediments deposited in collecting basins associated with the spring. The trench samples were analyzed by Florenzano and Mercuri; the latter group was analyzed by the author. Pollen samples from the collecting basins span the 6th to 1st century BCE. Pollen samples are used to reconstruct the regional vegetation and provide evidence of changes in crop cultivation and grazing. Samples for macrofossil analysis were collected mostly from the collecting basins and consisted of seeds, grains, fruit remains and wood and charcoal fragments. The macrofossil analysis was completed by Constantini and Biasini. The macrofossil record identifies more species than the pollen analysis, but lacks the finer stratigraphic and chronological control of the collecting basin pollen samples. Taken together the three sets of samples complement one another and give a detailed picture of regional vegetation and changes in agricultural practices during the Greek and Early Roman period in southern Italy.

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