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dence of Spinacia thus represents a milestone in the history ... Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, USM 303 - Case postale n°56, 55 rue Buffon, 75231 ..... Monte Imperiali) or medical books (le Livre des simples me´decines ..... Néolithique a` nos jours (Cerdagne, Pays Basque et Pays de Sault). ... J Archaeol Sci 17:1–11.

Veget Hist Archaeobot DOI 10.1007/s00334-013-0400-8


The first archaeobotanical evidence of Spinacia oleracea L. (spinach) in late 12th–mid 13th century A.D. France Charlotte Hallavant • Marie-Pierre Ruas

Received: 30 August 2012 / Accepted: 2 May 2013  Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Abstract Macroscopic charred remains of Spinacia oleracea L. (Amaranthaceae) have been found in the Pyrenean village of Montaillou, France, in several contexts of a house dated to the end 12th–mid 13th century A.D. This is the first archaeobotanical record of this vegetable in France and the earliest European archaeobotanical material so far found. The paper presents the morphological criteria used for identifying the charred remains of the species. After a review of archaeobotanical finds in Europe, hypotheses on the economic status of this vegetable, which is unknown as a wild plant in Europe, are discussed with reference to medieval written and illuminated sources and to archaeological deposits. It appears that Spinacia was first introduced into France from Moorish Spain where it was cultivated at least since the 11th century. The French evidence of Spinacia thus represents a milestone in the history and geographic diffusion of this vegetable into temperate Europe.

Communicated by M. van der Veen.

Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00334-013-0400-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users. C. Hallavant UMR 5608 TRACES-Terrae, University of Toulouse 2 and HADES, Maison de la Recherche, 5 alle´es Antonio Machado, 31058 Toulouse Cedex 9, France e-mail: [email protected] M.-P. Ruas (&) UMR 7209 CNRS–MNHN, Arche´ozoologie, Arche´obotaniqueSocie´te´s, Pratiques et Environnements (AASPE), CNRS, Muse´um national d’Histoire naturelle, USM 303 - Case postale n56, 55 rue Buffon, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords Europe  Middle ages  New leaf vegetable  Spinacia oleracea

Introduction Spinacia oleracea L. (spinach) is an annual or biennial cultivated plant which can grow in dioecious form with separate male and female plants, or occasionally as monoecious plants with both male and female flowers (Khattak et al. 2006, p. 311). It belongs to the Amaranthaceae family (ex-Chenopodiaceae subfamily Chenopodioideae) and is mainly cultivated as a leaf vegetable (Bois 1927; Ko¨rberGrohne 1987, p. 215). The exact origin and earliest cultivation date of S. oleracea are still not known (Andersen and Torp 2011) and it is unknown as a wild plant. However, the general assumption is that one of the two wild species S. tetrandra Stev. and S. turkestanica Iljin is the probable progenitor of the cultivated species. S. tetrandra grows in the mountainous steppes of southern Caucasia in Armenia and Kurdistan, and S. turkestanica is spread over the loess foothills of western and central Asia in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. These species are anemophilous and can grow as weeds (Zeven and De Wet 1982; Andersen and Torp 2011). The geographical distribution of these wild species and the generally high sexual compatibility with cultivated S. oleracea suggest that cultivated spinach resulted from domestication in the same area (Andersen and Torp 2011, p. 273). However, its spread to the west and its introduction into temperate Europe are still poorly known. According to the 12th century treatise of Ibn Al‘Awwam, an Andalusian agronomist, Kitaˆb al-Filaˆha (Book of agriculture) (El Faı¨z 2000), it was cultivated since at least the 11th century in southern Spain. Several


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hypotheses consider that Spain or Italy (Sicily) could have been the main routes for the introduction of this vegetable and its cultivation into northern countries. However, another hypothesis long prevailed emphasizing the role of Crusaders who would have brought it into France in the 13th century. The aim of this paper is to present the oldest evidence of carbonized fruit and seeds of S. oleracea in Europe from an unexpected deposit: a house from a mountain castrum (a type of ‘‘fortified’’ village). After a description of the archaeological material and an archaeobotanical review of Spinacia finds in other European sites, we will explore the introduction of this plant as a vegetable crop and its uses. Then we will discuss its social value in the European medieval diet by comparing the archaeobotanical data with written and iconographic sources.

Materials and methods The archaeological site The castrum Le Castellas at Montaillou is located on the northern slope of the central Pyrenees range in the De´partement of Arie`ge, about 40 km southeast of Foix (Fig. 1). It was built on top of a hill at 1,354 m a.s.l., and overlooks the present village and the Aillou calcareous plateau, a land with woods and pastures (Hallavant and Ruas 2008). The ruins of the keep which belonged to the Counts of Foix, who were the local lords at the end of the 13th century, are the only obvious traces of the existence of a castle (Fig. 2a, b). Palaeoenvironmental data (Galop 1998; Bal 2006) and historical and ethnographic archives

Fig. 1 Location of Montaillou (Arie`ge), 1,354 m a.s.l. in the eastern part of the French Pyrenees; The map shows the places frequented by the inhabitants of Montaillou during the 14th century and cited in the paper (CAD M-P Ruas based on GEOATLAS maps)


(Chevalier 1956) testify to the existence of a diversified land-use system since at least the 11th century. 14th century Latin texts from the Inquisition (Inquisition’s notebook) during anti-heretic investigations against the Cathars provide information about the diet and farming of the inhabitants (Duvernoy 1965, 1970; Le Roy Ladurie 1975). Excavations directed by J.-P. Cazes were carried out from 1998 to 2006 on the strongly eroded plateau, where traces of the 12th–13th century occupation of the so-called site of Le Castellas were found (Cazes 2006) (Fig. 3a). In the southern part, the relatively well preserved remains of an occupation area were subjected to a detailed archaeological study. This area included two houses of different sizes and a domestic annex (Fig. 3b). Archaeological evidence from the house construction quality and types of finds indicates the wealthy social status of the inhabitants, who were probably related to powerful military aristocrats and to the Alion family of lords, the last such family in the region before the Counts of Foix. The excavated ground floor of the main house revealed five structures including one central hearth and four pits containing rubbish deposits. Sampling, contexts and dating Forty soil samples were taken from the central hearth (SU 4054 = H), the floor (SU 4050, 4051, 4055 = F) and the fills of the two pits (P1 = 4157; P2 = 4107). In addition, six burnt straw agglomerates were sampled from three levels in Pit 4107 (Fig. 3c, d; Hallavant 2007, p. 41). All the soil samples, with a total volume of 18 l from the hearth, 26.5 l from the floor and 14 and 49.5 l from the pits, were processed by hand water flotation and sieved with two meshes (2 and 0.5 mm). The straw agglomerates (total volume 360 ml) were directly analysed when they were disaggregated and the compacted matter was dissected under a stereomicroscope in order to identify the main components. Three radiocarbon dates on charcoal and carbonized seeds from Pit 4107 and the hearth were obtained (Table 1; Reimer and Baillie 2004). The comparison of the three dates by a T test shows that they are not significantly different (T = 3.11; v2 = 5.99; p = 95 %). The calibrated curves indicate that they are very coherent and that they are organized in accordance with the stratigraphic succession (ESM 1). For the hearth ashes, the main date probability is somewhat later, at A.D. 1250 (third quarter of the 13th century A.D.). The dating of the upper layer of Pit 4107 (SU 4103) is centred on the second quarter of the 13th century A.D. and the median layer (SU 4106/4111) is most certainly earlier than the third quarter of the 13th century A.D. The lower limit (end of 12th century) is more uncertain because of the existence of the calibration plateau.

Veget Hist Archaeobot Fig. 2 Topography of the Montaillou landscape; a view of the plateau with the 14th century A.D. donjon castle of Le Castellas, Montaillou; b topographic map showing the position of Montaillou (photo and CAD C. Hallavant based on IGN map Ax-Les-Thermes 1/25000, 214ET, TOP 25)

Table 1 AMS radiocarbon dates obtained on charred seeds and charcoal from medieval levels at Le Castellas, Montaillou, (calibrated using Calib 6, 1.0,  Stuiver M and Reimer PJ 1986–2011; Reimer and Baillie 2004); for probability distributions of the calibration dates see ESM 1 Labcode

Type of remains

Archaeological deposit


Calibr age (A.D.)



Hearth SU 4054

751 ± 40

1228–1283 (1 r)

C age (years B.P.)

1210–1378 (2 r) Poz-16730


Pit 4107, SU 4103, upper layer

810 ± 30

1215–1260 (1 r)



Pit 4107, SU 4111, median layer

850 ± 40

1158–1251 (1 r)

1175–1271 (2 r) 1046–1266 (2 r)


Veget Hist Archaeobot Fig. 3 Excavation plan of Le Castellas site, Montaillou; a general view and the archaeobotanical study area in the residential part (in the framed part); b the residential part at the end of the excavation (F floor; H hearth; P, P1, P2 pits); c overhead view of the main house organization and location of the samples (red circles): hearth US 4054 and pits P1 = pit 4107 and P2 = pit 4157; d section C–C’: location of the soil (circles) and straw (rectangles) samples: stratigraphic filling of pits 4157 and 4107. The filled black circles indicate samples where Spinacia remains were recorded. (CAD and photos, Cazes 2006; modified C. Hallavant)

Therefore, these results indicate that the latest use of the hearth and the rubbish deposits are dated between the beginning and the third quarter of the 13th century A.D., without excluding the end of the 12th century for the earlier deposit (SU 4106/4111, median layer of Pit 4107) (Fig. 3d).

Results Description of the Spinacia oleracea remains In total one S. oleracea achene and four seeds were identified (Fig. 4a–d). These carbonized remains come from Pit


4107 (P1 Layers 4103 and 4106/4111) and the hearth (Fig. 3c, d). The identification of the seeds was based on anatomical and morphological observations of modern fresh and experimentally carbonized seeds as well as descriptions of published archaeological specimens (Van Zeist et al. 2000). The well preserved achene has a slightly triangular obovate shape with two irregularly domed sides and a more or less distinct cell network. The rounded base is slightly notched at the tip of the radicle. In the middle of the apex, the style remnants lie between the two lateral expansions (‘‘prickles’’) (Fig. 4a). The measurements of the achene are 2.4 9 2.6 9 1.8 mm (Fig. 5). The modern reference collection specimens bear two to four prickles

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Fig. 4 Carbonized remains of the 12th–13th century Spinacia oleracea, Le Castellas, Montaillou; a prickly achene from the hearth; b–d three seeds from Pit 417 (Photos: Ruas M.-P., CNRS UMR7209)

Fig. 6 Modern fresh specimens of Spinacia oleracea; a–c three prickly achenes; d, e three seeds (Photos: Ruas M.-P., CNRS UMR7209)

Fig. 5 Measurements of some archaeological and modern fruit and seeds of Spinacia oleracea (L length, B breadth, unit mm)

(Fig. 6a–c) depending on the variety (Matthies 1985) and some lack them altogether (S. oleracea ssp. spinosa and S. oleracea ssp. inermis). Seed size of the archaeological specimens varies between 1.2 and 1.8 mm long and 1–1.3 mm wide (Figs. 4b–d, 5). As the seeds were recovered before the discovery of the fruit, they were not initially attributed to S. oleracea because their morphology is close to that of seeds of the genus Atriplex and they are small compared to modern spinach seeds (1.6–3 9 1.3–2.7 mm) (Figs. 5, 6d, e). Spinacia oleracea seeds have biconvex, compressed or flattened sides. In profile, the testa margin is grooved along the seed marking a thickening of the testa. The radicle is pronounced as with Atriplex, but the tip is projected slightly forward. The surface is rough with an indistinct reticulum. Only one archaeological specimen from Montaillou had a preserved radicle (Fig. 4c). On all the other seeds, a thickening of the groove and the testa margin was observed (Fig. 4b, d). In order to evaluate seed distortion and damage to the testa due to carbonization, the experimental charring of modern


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specimens from the collection was tested in a muffle furnace. However, the number of available seeds and fruits in the collection was not sufficient for repeating tests in varying conditions of oxidation and reduction. Nonetheless, we noted the same damage and established a parallel between recent and fossil seeds after charring. For the first test, half of one seed, a whole seed and three achenes were charred in the furnace for less than 10 min at a progressive temperature of 300 C in reducing conditions. The fruit swelled and one of them burst by protrusion (expulsion of the inner albumen as with ‘‘popcorn’’) (Fig. 7a, b). The second test was conducted with three whole seeds at 300 C for 3 min. During both tests some isolated seeds swelled and burst open (Fig. 7c); the

rough surface of the testa became shiny but the grooved margin was still well distinct, as on the archaeological seeds (Fig. 7c, d). Although limited in scope, the two charring tests showed that the achenes and the seeds of Spinacia are weakly resistant at 300 C as they tend to burst in experimental conditions. Nevertheless, the specific morphology of the fruit allows us to identify the species without risk of confusion. However, concerning the seeds, confusion is possible with those of the other members of the Chenopodioideae subfamily when they are carbonized. This uncertainty may explain why no other identification from carbonized material has been mentioned in France or in Europe, as without the whole fruit, it would be presumptuous to attribute charred seeds to Spinacia. Other plant macro-remains at Montaillou

Fig. 7 Modern carbonized specimens of Spinacia oleracea showing the effects of a temperature of 300 C under reducing conditions from charring in a muffle furnace; a achenes with little distortion; b achene with the formation of external protrusion; c seed with damage on a lateral side; d seed with the formation of external protrusion (Fruit collection UMR 7209; photos: Ruas M.-P., CNRS UMR7209)


Besides the Spinacia seeds and fruit, remains of numerous cultivated and wild plants were identified at the site (ESM 2). They provided 19,835 carbonized seeds and fruit, with a density per litre of 178 seeds. The carbonized remains were well preserved and 18 cultivated and collected plants and 61 wild plants were recorded (Hallavant 2007; Hallavant and Ruas 2008). The remains of cereals (64.5 % grains and chaff) and pulses (20.4 %) dominated the assemblages. Small quantities of fruit, oil/textile plants and vegetables were also recovered (\1 % of the total identified remains). Avena sp. and A. sativa (oats) dominated the cereal grain, (41 %) followed by Hordeum vulgare (hulled barley), then a smaller quantity of Triticum aestivum/durum/turgidum (naked wheat) and Secale cereale (rye). In contrast, S. cereale rachis internodes constituted the major component of the chaff fragments. The compact burnt straw samples consisted mainly of indeterminate cereal culm fragments including a small quantity of S. cereale rachis and T. aestivum (hexaploid bread wheat), some lemma bases and H. vulgare rachis, pedicels of Avena sp. panicles and abundant weed seeds. The range of pulses consisted mainly of Pisum sativum (pea) and Vicia sativa (common vetch) with sporadic Lens culinaris (lentil) and Vicia faba var. minor (broad bean) remains. Remains of six fruit and nut taxa were mixed in with the deposits: Juglans regia (walnut), Corylus avellana (hazelnut), Rubus fruticosus (blackberry), R. idaeus (raspberry), Fragaria vesca (strawberry) and cf. Vitis (perhaps grape). Lastly, smaller quantities of other economic plants were recorded, the oil/fibre crops Cannabis sativa (hemp) and Linum usitatissimum (flax), and bulb fragments of an indeterminate Allium sp. The diversity of wild plants appears to be consistent with cereal crop weeds, plants typical of grassland/meadows, woodland edges as well as fallow and waste land (Hallavant 2007; Hallavant and Ruas 2008).

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Discussion Archaeobotanical records of Spinacia oleracea in Europe Up to the present day, 42 archaeobotanical finds of S. oleracea or cf. Spinacia have been recorded from 24 western European sites in a total of 32 contexts (Fig. 8a, b): eight contexts with fruits, 26 contexts with pollen grains or with fruits and pollen, all urban contexts from either Germany or the Netherlands. Of these, only 13 are definite identifications: six contexts with fruits and eight contexts with pollen (ESM 3). Two contexts date to the high medieval period: the oldest is in Germany (13th century) (contexts 1 and 2, Fig. 8a; ESM 3). Five contexts (3–7) date to the later medieval period, 24 (8–31) to the early modern period (late 16th–18th centuries), and one (32) to the 19th century (Fig. 8a, b). With the exception of the Langestrasse 7 site at Schwa¨bisch Hall, Germany (context 14) where desiccated fruits were found together with other plants in a false ceiling (Ro¨sch et al. 1994), the majority of the Spinacia remains were preserved in waterlogged conditions in cesspits, sewers, wells, manure and waste pits. At Schwa¨bisch Hall, the desiccated fruits were mixed with the seeds of many other food plants such as vegetables, spices, oilrich seeds, pulses and cereals. According to the authors, they probably represent storage residues (Ro¨sch et al. 1994). In the other sites, pollen and seeds correspond to waste from consumed plants. Therefore, the Spinacia remains at Montaillou appear to be the earliest and most southerly in western Europe. In addition, the type of preservation and discovery context— carbonization and a mountain village context—make this find unusual and currently unique. Spinacia oleracea in ancient and medieval sources A translation from Chaldean (Aramaic) into Arabic in the 10th century A.D. of the text of the Nabatean agriculture book, dated to the 4th century A.D., by a Babylonian agronomist describing crops produced and consumed in ancient Mesopotamia, became a reference for ancient agronomic knowledge (El Faı¨z 1995). According to the translated version, Spinacia appears to have been exploited in this area during antiquity. Moreover, it seems that the earliest known written mention of cultivated Spinacia is found in a Chinese book dated to the 7th century A.D. (Laufer 1919). In western Mediterranean Europe, Spinacia was neither cultivated by the ancient Greeks (Amigues 2002) nor by the Romans (Andre´ 1981). It is absent from the enumeration of plants to be sown in the Carolingian domains of northern Europe, as indicated in the ordinance Capitulare de Villis vel curtis imperii, commonly attributed to Charlemagne (A.D. 800)

Fig. 8 a Map of the archaeobotanical records of Spinacia remains in Europe; b detailed map for The Netherlands. The number of the sites is indicated in ESM 3

(Harvey 1981; Vogellehner 1989). The Hispano-Arabic treatise Kitaˆb al-filaˆha (Book of agriculture) written towards the end of the 12th century by Ibn al-‘Awwaˆm constitutes unique evidence of farming practices in medieval Andalusia (El Faı¨z 2000). But this author refers to the knowledge of writers who lived during the 11th century in Spain (Abu¯ ‘lKhayr, Ibn Bassaˆl, Ibn Hajja¯j, Ibn al-Baytaˆr). So we can


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deduce that Spinacia was known and sown in the Moorish area of Europe since at least the 11th century (Ibn al-‘Awwaˆm XXIII, El Faı¨z 1995, 2000). The medieval translation of the Nabatean agriculture book and the 11th century composition by Ibn Buˆtlan, a Christian doctor living in Baghdad, of the book Kitab Taqwim as-sihha (The Almanac of Health, so-called Tacuinum sanitatis illuminated by European artists in the 14th and 15th centuries) shows that medieval Arab scholars from the Middle East spread agronomic and technical knowledge to the West (El Faı¨z 1995). For a long time, the idea dominated that the Crusaders were the sole agents responsible for the introduction of Spinacia to Christian Europe (for example, cited in Gibault 1912). However, beside the 11th century mention of Spinacia cultivation in Spain, it is possible to follow the exploitation and use of this vegetable in northern Europe from the 13th century onwards through written records and illustrations of the plant and cultivation areas in various types of European sources: agricultural sciences, botanical, medical and health treatises, culinary recipes, account books and taxable foodstuff lists (ESM 4). The lists of taxed foodstuffs (leudes of Barcelona or Collioure) indicate the imported products that crossed southern Catalonia up to coastal southern France. Spinacia (spinargiis) was sold in the urban market place in Perpignan (see map Fig. 1). Dated to the end of the 12th–13th century, these documents provide an estimate for the introduction of the vegetable into France. At this time, spinach, citrus fruit, eggplant and rice (sold in the same markets) must have been considered as a novelty by the local population. In this way, regional trade informs us how certain fruits and vegetables were brought into the country from Spain (Puig 2003). The plant also began to be described and illustrated in the European medical and agronomic treatises of Albrecht von Bollsta¨dt (Germany), Arnau de Vilanova (France) and Pietro de’ Crescenzi (Italy), dating from between the middle of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century (ESM 4). The account books for garden spending of the social elite show that Spinacia was sown in the northern part of France and in England at the beginning of the 14th century. For example, seeds were bought in Paris to be sown in Countess Mahaut’s garden at Hesdin near Amiens in Picardy, France (Richard 1892). The vegetable is mentioned in the plant list of the archbishop of Canterbury’s gardener at Lambeth, England (Harvey 1981). At the same time, spinach was included as a leaf vegetable in several European culinary recipes destined for royal and privileged families: Liber de Coquina (1306), Libre de Sent Sovı´ (1324), the Viandier de Taillevent (1338–1380), the Me´nagier de Paris (1392–1393) (Pichon 1992; Pichon et al. 1991). Latin manuscript depictions, such as herbal (Liber de herbis et plantis…,14th century of Manfredus de


Monte Imperiali) or medical books (le Livre des simples me´decines, 15th century) and the Tacuinum sanitatis from the several editions dated to the 14th and 15th centuries provide some botanically accurate images of spinach (Fig. 9a, b). The medieval type of S. oleracea was the form with prickly fruit assigned to the winter cultivar (S. oleracea ssp. spinosa) (Hegi 1979). But two types of spinach with prickly and smooth fruits were known and widely sown from the middle of the 16th century onwards. A description is given by the German botanist Hieronymus Bock (alias Tragus) in his treatise New Kreu¨ter Buch edited in 1539 (Bois 1927, p. 410). The beginning of the 17th century edition of the French treatise Le the´aˆtre d’agriculture et mesnage des champs, describing farming practices and crops produced in those times in France and written by the scholar landowner Olivier de Serres in 1605, also reported prickly and smooth spinach fruits (De Serres 1991, p. 514). Medieval and European written sources and pictures show that this new vegetable spread in a short time into medieval western Europe by occupying a place in the aristocratic, secular or ecclesiastical gardens beside common vegetables and by being included in the diet of the social elite. Uses and economic status of Spinacia in medieval and modern times in Europe According to Arabic texts, the Muslims called this plant the ‘‘prince of vegetables’’ (el’ra’ıˆs). The Andalusian botanist Ibn Bassaˆl (11th century) and other agronomists reported that the seeds of the crop were extolled and widely praised (cited by Ibn al-‘Awwaˆm, XXIII, 8, El Faı¨z 2000). But what value was granted to it at the time of its introduction and spread to northern Europe? According to the archaeobotanical assemblages from the European cesspits and sewers which have yielded spinach remains (ESM 3), the commercial and social value of this vegetable changed between the Middle Ages and modern times. Records from 13th century German urban contexts (sites 1 and 2, ESM 3, Fig. 8a) show that it was consumed by wealthy inhabitants, as indicated by the co-occurrence of other exotic plant remains. Some could not be grown in this northern area; others would not have been commonly grown, except in gardens of privileged families: Oryza sativa, Carum carvi, Ficus, Foeniculum, Morus, Satureja and Vitis. But dietary and theological principles at this time considered herbs and roots to be food for the working classes (Grieco 1996). In the recipes of the two 14th century French culinary treatises, Le Me´nagier de Paris and Le Viandier de Taillevent, spinach appears as an ingredient for soups, considered to be a common dish (Pichon 1992;

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ht If i1anft- ~nt;t a~.. ftan~t« 'T"• fr cm•f/~t:oy

, OBnF

Fig. 9 Pictures of Spinacia in European medieval manuscripts (Bibliothe`que Nationale de France, Paris); a ‘‘Spinacha’’ depicted in the Liber de Herbis et plantis of Manfredus de Monte Imperiali, Pisa (Italy), BNF latin 6823 folio 146r (around 1330–1340); b ‘‘espinart’’ depicted in Le Livre des simples me´decines, Burgundy (France) BNF picture 403

fr. 9137 folio 295 (around 1475); c ‘‘spinachie’’ depicted in the Tacuinum Sanitatis of Ibn Butlaˆn, BNF new Latin acquisition 1673 folio 26v (around 1390–1400); d ‘‘spinachie/spinet’’ depicted in the Tacuinum Sanitatis of Ibn Butlaˆn, BNF Latin 9333 folio 24, Rhineland (Germany) (15th century)


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Pichon et al. 1991). It was also used in Lent dishes. But by the end of the Middle Ages spinach rose in the hierarchy of vegetables consumed by the wealthy in northern Italy (Pietro de’ Crescenzi, cited by Gaulin 1990). The accounts books also reflect the increased interest in this vegetable and its value through the purchase of seeds for aristocratic gardens in northern France and England (Richard 1892; Harvey 1981). The crop and its cultivation are represented by the depiction of Tacuinum sanitatis (15th century) in closed gardens, in which picked leaves are carried in baskets by peasants (Mane 2006). But these representations show peasants at work and not the owners of the garden who consumed the vegetable shown (Fig. 9c, d). From the 16th century onwards, green vegetables such as spinach occupied an increasingly important role in the diet of wealthy people (Flandrin 1991). Discoveries of pollen and seeds in 16th and 17th century cesspits used by wealthy residents of Dutch cities confirm the popularity of this vegetable and its status in their diet. Remains of exotic plants or plants with a high commercial value were mixed with those of spinach in the same deposit: Citrus, Cucumis sativus, Piper nigrum, Syzygium aromaticum, Aframomun melegueta, O. sativa, Capsicum annuum etc. (‘s-Hertogenbosch site 16, ESM 3, Fig. 8b, Van Haaster 2003). However, some results from 18th century data could indicate that spinach probably became more common because the price of associated exotic food plants recorded in the same deposits was by then lower than during the previous period (sites 27, 28, 31; ESM 3, Fig. 8b) (Van Haaster 2006a, b, 2009). These historical and archaeobotanical sources thus show that spinach was a commodity of wealthy inhabitants in northern European towns. The spinach remains from Montaillou stand out from all these archaeobotanical records as they were found carbonized in a mountain village house, inhabited between the end of the 12th and the 13th century. Thus, this is both the earliest and the southernmost archaeobotanical occurrence in temperate and non-urban Europe. According to the texts, it takes place at a time that coincides with the introduction of this crop into aristocratic gardens and the diet of northern European courts. Consequently, this unexpected discovery in such a context raises several questions. What cause favoured the presence of spinach seeds during the occupation of the Montaillou house at a time when the plant was still new in France? Were they casually introduced with other plants by livestock and people crossing the Pyrenees? Did the inhabitants of the house buy the seeds in city markets or through trade between farmers? Did they receive the plant as a gift from abroad (Moorish Spain)? Did they store seeds for the next sowing? Did the plant play a role in the local economy and if so what was its value? Was it regarded at Montaillou as a novelty and a rare plant reserved for a privileged family?


By comparing deposit types, regional archaeobotanical results and information from texts and iconography, we can attempt to define the economic status of Spinacia at Montaillou. Subsequently, the introduction mode of Spinacia into this area and more widely into temperate Europe can be discussed. Uses of Spinacia at Montaillou Spinach remains were found in the main room of the house where daily activities took place; in this case, cooking and food preparation around the central hearth. The seeds were charred and deposited with other plant waste during at least three different stages and it is thus unlikely that they correspond to an occasional and fortuitous supply. In the charring residue of the hearth where the achene of spinach was found, cereal grain and pulse seeds predominate, with 17 % Avena, 21 % Hordeum (hulled), a few Secale and Triticum (naked), 22 % V. sativa and Pisum with a few V. faba. A single fragment of Corylus shell, 6 % wild plants and Abies alba (fir) leaf needles were also mixed in with the cereals and seeds. Both levels of the filling of the first pit 4107 differ in their composition with more abundant chaff (28 and 18 %) consisting of fragments of Poaceae stalks (straw) and Secale rachis internodes, Triticum (naked), some Avena and Hordeum, and finally wild plants (20 and 14 %). The pulse seeds (Pisum, V. sativa, V. faba, Lens) represent between 13 and 33 % of the remains (Fig. 10). Other ranges of crops such as fruit, vegetables and oleaginous/fibre plants are limited to a few remains (ESM 2).

Fig. 10 The plant spectra of the charred assemblages where Spinacia oleracea remains were recorded, Le Castellas, Montaillou

Veget Hist Archaeobot

The second pit, not described here, yielded a carbonized sheep/goat dung pellet in the level where chaff cereals and weed plant seeds also dominated (ESM 2; Hallavant 2007; Hallavant and Ruas 2008). Thus, in the first pit, the quantity of straw and chaff cereals in the levels where the spinach seeds were found suggests that they are probably related to stable litter or fodder. Few chaff parts were preserved in the hearth, which may result from differential destruction during charring (Boardman and Jones 1990). The hearth was essential for domestic life in these rural houses and served a multi-purpose function for heating, cooking and various processing activities prior to conservation and storage (drying crops and meat). Nevertheless, according to the villagers questioned in the 14th century by the bishop of Pamiers, men and some of the livestock (sheep, pig, mule/donkey) sometimes shared the same space in the house (Le Roy Ladurie 1975). Therefore, part of the plant material burnt in the hearth could have come from stable floors as is suggested by the presence of the sheep or goat dung pellet in the second pit. The ashes must have been emptied into the rubbish pits dug directly into the rock near the hearth. Ultimately, the spinach seeds could have been mixed into the foodstuffs stored and processed in the house but also in animal feed. Social status of the inhabitants of the house As suggested by the material evidence from the house such as its fine architecture, the fact that it is the biggest in the village and its equipment, the inhabitants were probably wealthy and must have occupied a high social rank in the village (Cazes and Hallavant 2009). They may have been members of the lord’s family or have had an important role in economic activity. If the charred assemblages correspond to fodder residues, it is probable that a shepherd lived in the house with some sheep and goats. As mentioned above, this possibility is evoked in the 14th century Latin Inquisition texts (Inquisition’s notebook) concerning the inhabitants of Montaillou (Le Roy Ladurie 1975). Moreover, these written sources bring to the fore the dynamic role played by shepherds through their trade relationships and travel on both sides of the Pyrenees range or further east, in the Roussillon plain (see location in Fig. 1) (Cazenave 2001). However, as soil sampling was limited to the deposits of a single house, we cannot ascertain whether spinach was exclusive to this house or if it was a commonly eaten vegetable. The small sample survey conducted in a later level with a concentration of charred seeds, dating to the end of the 13th–14th century, produced no evidence of spinach (Hallavant 2007; Hallavant and Ruas 2008). Perhaps it was only eaten by a few people who incidentally

discovered it during transhumance then introduced it into the village or who received it as a gift because of their dominant social status (lord, military, and so on?) or for both reasons. A local staple crop? Plant diversity recorded in these domestic contexts implies that spinach could also have been sown and picked by the villagers of Montaillou. Yet, the descendants questioned in the 14th century by the Inquisition do not mention this vegetable as a cultivated or consumed crop. In their fields and gardens they grew Avena sativa, T. aestivum, Panicum miliaceum, V. faba, C. sativa, L. usitatissimum, Allium spp., Brassica spp. (cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips). They gathered Corylus, Juglans and fungi in woods and heathlands (Duvernoy 1970; Le Roy Ladurie 1975). Other food and drink such as wine were bought at the grain or livestock fairs which they attended in the nearest towns of Ax, Pamiers and Tarascon-sur-Arie`ge (Fig. 1). But when winter transhumance began, the shepherds of Montaillou reached the Cerdagne mountains and the Roussillon plain where they could buy olive oil and salt. They also obtained sugar, the only product imported from Islamic areas (Le Roy Ladurie 1975). Therefore, through trade in nearby small market towns or fairs throughout the year (as shown by the taxed products from Spain which were sold in the markets of Perpignan), this vegetable could be bought fresh (Denjean 2004; Petrowiste 2005). Could the inhabitants of Montaillou also have cultivated it in their gardens? Spinach is reputed to be intolerant to drought, thus cold temperate areas provide optimal growing conditions; it even tolerates temperatures as low as -5 C (Bois 1927, p. 411). The crop requires more watering when sown in sandy soil whereas clay-rich and nutrient-rich soils are more suitable. The local landscape of Montaillou is made up of mountainous vegetation, currently dominated by an Abies alba (fir) woodland formation with open pastoral areas. The land is situated at the climatic transition between mountain-Atlantic with a wet and cold winter with persistent snow during several months, and sub-Mediterranean influences, as the slopes are exposed to warm easterly winds (Gaussen et al. 1964). The average annual rainfall is between 1,200 and 1,400 mm whereas the average temperature is circa 5 and 6 C. In sum, taking into account the ecological affinities of S. oleracea, the high altitude and cold temperature of this area do not seem to be limiting factors for its growth. Whatever the origin or cause of the introduction of spinach at Montaillou, this location at the physical and political border with Spain is probably one of the entry points of this new vegetable into France, possibly even into


Veget Hist Archaeobot

temperate Europe. Despite the lack of material evidence of Arab-Andalusian influence in the economic life of this Pyrenean mountain population, these few spinach seeds suggest that the inhabitants of Montaillou were not far from the trade routes and the food novelties of their time.

Conclusion The scarcity and small quantities of Spinacia remains preserved in archaeological deposits are probably due to the fact that, like other vegetables (Daucus, Apium, Beta), its edible parts are gathered and consumed before the plant goes to seed. Additionally, vegetables are more likely to be preserved in anaerobic contexts such as waterlogged sewers, cesspits and rubbish pits, but these occur much less frequently than deposits with charred remains. In France, several excavated urban medieval and modern sites have yielded mainly mineralized material, due to the dry conditions of the sediment and even when waterlogged conditions prevail, remains of exotic plants are generally lacking or very poorly preserved (Ruas 2010). With only one sampled house, we cannot formulate a clear idea of the origin and causes of the presence of this new plant at Montaillou. However, the archaeobotanical discovery of S. oleracea in the fortified site of Montaillou is exceptional, given the type of context and the deposits. During the occupation of this Pyrenean village, spinach was still absent or only sporadically mentioned in written sources and not represented in pictures due to the later introduction of this crop in the northern part of Europe. This earliest archaeobotanical find of spinach in France differs from other archaeobotanical European evidence in that it originates from a rural rather than an urban context. Moreover, medieval texts only concern urban and wealthy social contexts. These finds point to the consumption of this leaf vegetable by rich urban people but also by the seemingly privileged inhabitants of the mountain castrum. This new discovery, still restricted to a single house context but consisting of five remains, corroborates the hypothesis of the introduction of this crop into France from Moorish Spain, where it was cultivated and eaten since at least the 11th century. In this case, it would be related to pastoral activities and trading across the Pyrenean valleys. The diffusion routes of S. oleracea during the 13th century to northern countries remain unclear, although it was rapidly included and selected for the gardens and diet of the social elite. Acknowledgments This work was supported by grants from the Departmental Council of Arie`ge and of the research groups UMR 5608 (Terrae network) at Toulouse and UMR 7209 CNRS-Muse´um National d’Histoire Naturelle at Paris (France). We wish to thank Jean-Paul Cazes (CCS Patrimoine), director of the excavations, for


providing optimal conditions during sampling and the Masters preparation and for friendly collaboration. We are grateful to Stefanie Jacomet (IPAS, Basel), Manfred Ro¨sch (Landesamt fu¨r Denkmalpflege, Hemmenhofen), Julian Wiethold (INRAP, Metz) for references from European archaeobotanical spinach evidence and Otto Brinkkemper (Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency) for guiding us in bibliographic spinach research in the Netherlands. We also extend our sincere thanks to Yves Pauthier, manager of the seeds service of the Muse´um national d’Histoire naturelle of Paris (MNHN), to Marijke van der Veen (Leicester University, GB) for her valuable advice, and Koen Deforce (Flemish Heritage Institute Brussels, Belgium) for helping us with the translation of the Dutch words into English. We also thank Louise Byrne as well as James Greig (Editorial staff) for kindly correcting the final English version.

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Veget Hist Archaeobot El Faı¨z M (1995) L’agronomie de la Me´sopotamie antique. Analyse du Livre de l’Agriculture Nabate´enne de Quˆtaˆma. E J Brill, Leyden El Faı¨z M (ed) (2000) Ibn al-‘Awwaˆm, Kitaˆb al-Filaˆha (Le livre de l’agriculture 12th century A.D.), French translation by J-J Cle´ment-Mullet (edn 1866), Actes Sud, Arles Flandrin J-L (1991) Les fruits et le´gumes dans l’alimentation des e´lites sociales du XIVe au XVIIIe sie`cle. In: Meiller D, Vannier P (eds) Le grand livre des fruits et le´gumes. Histoire, culture et usage. Editions La Manufacture, Besanc¸on, pp 157–162 Galop D (1998) La foreˆt, l’homme et le troupeau dans les Pyre´ne´es. Presses Universitaires du Mirail, Toulouse Gaulin J-L (1990) Pietro de’ Crescenzi et l’agronomie en Italie (XIIe - XVIe sie`cles). The`se, Universite´ de Paris I Gaussen H, Arles M, Rey P (1964) Carte de la ve´ge´tation de la France. Foix, 77 (11)1. CNRS, Toulouse Gibault G (1912) Histoire des le´gumes. Librairie Horticole, Paris Grieco AJ (1996) Alimentation et classes sociales a` la fin du Moyen Age et a` la Renaissance. In: Flandrin J-L, Montanari M (eds) Histoire de l’alimentation. Fayard, Paris, pp 479–490 Hallavant C (2007) Les structures domestiques et les productions agricoles et alimentaires a` Montaillou (Arie`ge) au XIIIe sie`cle : re´sultats carpologiques et interpre´tations. Me´moire de Master recherche, Universite´ Toulouse-Le Mirail Hallavant C, Ruas M-P (2008) Pratiques agraires et terroir de montagne: un regard arche´obotanique sur Montaillou (Arie`ge) au XIIIe sie`cle. Arche´ologie du Midi Me´die´val 26:93–129 Harvey J (1981) Medieval gardens. Batsford, London Hegi OJ (1979) Illustrierte Flora von Mitteleuropa, vol 3/2. Parey, Berlin Khattak JZK, Torp AM, Andersen SB (2006) A genetic linkage map of Spinacia oleracea and localization of a sex determination locus. Euphytica 148:311–318 Ko¨rber-Grohne U (1987) Nutzpflanzen in Deutschland. Kulturgeschichte und Biologie. Theiss, Stuttgart Laufer B (1919) Sino-Iranica Chinese contributions to the history of civilization in ancient Iran with special reference to the history of cultivated plants and products. (Field Museum Anthropological Series XV, 3) Publications of Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago Le Roy Ladurie E (1975) Montaillou, village occitan de 1294 a` 1324. Gallimard, Saint-Amand ˆ ge. Etude Mane P (2006) Le travail a` la campagne au Moyen A iconographique, Picard, Paris Matthies M (1985) Stadtgrabung 32. Nutzpflanzenfunde des Mittelalters und der fru¨hen Neuzeit aus der Go¨rdelingerstraße. In: Ro¨tting H (ed) Stadtarcha¨ologie in Braunschweig. Forsch Denkmalpfl Niedersachsen 3, pp 215–219 Petrowiste J (2005) Transit et redistribution : l’organisation des e´changes marchands dans le comte´ de Foix a` la fin du Moyen ˆ ge (XIIIe - XVe sie`cles). In: Circulation des marchandises et A re´seaux commerciaux dans les Pyre´ne´es, XIIIe - XIXe sie`cles, Actes du colloque Andorre 2003. CNRS-Me´ridiennes, Toulouse, pp 415–436

Pichon J (ed) (1992) Le Me´nagier de Paris. Traite´ de morale et d’e´conomie domestique, compose´ vers 1393 par un bourgeois parisien. Re´gis Lehoucq, Paris Pichon J, Vicaire G, Aebischer P (eds) (1991) Le Viandier de Taillevent. Re´gis Lehoucq, Paris Puig C (2003) Les campagnes roussillonnaises au Moyen Age : dynamiques agricoles et paysage`res entre le XIIe et la premie`re moitie´ du XIVe sie`cle. The`se, Universite´ Toulouse-Le Mirail Reimer PJ, Baillie MGL et al (2004) IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0–26 cal kyr BP. Radiocarbon 46:1,029–1,058 Richard J-M (1892) Thierry d’Hirec¸on, agriculteur arte´sien (13.1328). Bibliothe`que de l’e´cole des chartes 53:383–416 Ro¨sch M, Karg S, Silmann M (1994) Vierhundert Jahre gelagert: Pfanzenreste aus Decken und Wa¨nden. Botanische Dokumentation zu Erna¨hrung, Landwirtschaft und Landschaft aus der Langen Straße 49. In: Bedal A, Fehle I (eds) Hausgeschichten, Bauen und Wohnen im alten Hall und seiner Katherinenvorstadt. Katalog des Ha¨llisch-Fra¨nkischen Museums Schwa¨bisch Hall 8, pp 474–491 Ruas M-P (2010) Des grains, des fruits et des pratiques: la carpologie historique en France. In: Chapelot J, Poisson J-M (eds) L’arche´ologie me´die´vale en France depuis 30 ans, actes du colloque international de la Socie´te´ d’Arche´ologie Me´die´vale. Vincennes juin 2006. Publications du CRAHM, Caen, pp 55–70 Van Haaster H (2003) Slofferbonen in hamelensop. Een botanisch onderzoek naar de voedingsgewoonten aan het Keizershof in ‘sHertogenbosch 1500–1800. (BIAXiaal 169) Gemeente ’s-Hertogenbosch, afdeling Bouwhistorie, Archeologie en Monumenten, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2006a) Van ‘slymsucht, vryster-siekte, hoofdsszwijmel, zijde-wee en rooden-loop’ Ofwel: De resultaten van het archeobotanisch onderzoek op het Entre-Deux terrein in Maastricht (13e - 18e eeuw). (BIAXiaal 256) BAAC BV, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2006b) ‘Tot yeders believen’, een botanisch onderzoek naar de voedingsgewoonten op de Oudezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam tussen 1550 en 1900. Gemeente Amsterdam, BIAX Consult, BIAXiaal 263, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2009) Vlissingen-Dokkershaven, resultaten van het archeobotanisch onderzoek. (BIAXiaal 421) ADC ArcheoProjecten, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Zeist W, Cappers RTJ, Ouderkerken MG, Palfenier-Vegter RM, De Roller GJ, Vrede F (2000) Cultivated and wild plant in lateand post-medieval Groningen: a study of archaeological plant remains. Groningen Vogellehner D (1989) Les jardins du Haut Moyen Age (VIIIe - XIIe sie`cles). In: Jardins et vergers en Europe occidentale (VIIIeXVIIIe sie`cles), actes des neuvie`mes Journe´es internationales d’histoire, abbaye de Flaran (Gers), septembre 1987. Auch. Flaran 9:11–40 Zeven AC, De Wet JMJ (1982) Dictionary of cultivated plant and their regions of diversity. Excluding most ornamentals forest trees and lower plants. PUDOC, Wageningen


ESM 2 Number of carbonized plant remains and taxa recorded from burnt deposits sampled in the house at Le Castellas, Montaillou. The number of remains represents the estimated number of whole seeds or fruits or the minimum number of whole seeds or fruits. It is equal to the whole seeds or fruits added to the number of fragments divided by 2 Sample layer Feature

Taxa Cereal grains Avena sativa L./Avena sp. Cerealia unidentified Hordeum vulgare L. Secale cereale L. Triticum aestivum/durum/turgidum Total cereal grains

Volume of sample (l) caryopsis/floret caryopsis caryopsis/floret caryopsis caryopsis

4054 Hearth ashes

4050/51/55 4139 Floor Pit 4157 around hearth 18 27 7


4103/06 Pit 4107






677/2 850 828/5 77 237 2 676

441/1 305 249/1 73 107 1 177

413/5 192 221/2 84 110 1 027

91/3 67 32/0 44 65 302

621/2 375 550/8 266 336 2 158

291/3 169 227/3 159 128 980

6/3 4 1/0 7 4 25

2,534/16 1 961 2,108/19 710 986 8 345


Cereal chaff Avena sativa L. /Avena sp. Avena sativa L. Avena sp. Avena /Hordeum Cerealia/unidentified Poaceae Cerealia/unidentified Poaceae Cerealia/unidentified Poaceae Hordeum vulgare L. Hordeum vulgare L. Secale cereale L. Triticum aestivum L. Triticum aestivum/durum/turgidum Total cereal chaff

lemma base pedicel awn/panicle segment lemma base rachis culm internode/culm node awns lemma base rachis rachis rachis rachis

8 6 4 21/0 8 33 3 10 93

12 3 46/0 2 9 105 3 35 215

7 2 34/0 3 1 24 1 6 78

10 0/1 2 114 508/0 17 28 928 29 344 1 981

29 12 51 278/0 3 4 9 448 14 149 997

25 2/0 5 23 158/0 11 8 332 12 94 670

11 0/10 5 134/3 11 9 163 25 49 420

91 11 2/11 30 197 1,179/3 33 26 64 2 033 87 687 4 454

Pulses Lens culinaris Med./cf. Lens culinaris Lens culinaris Med./Vicia sp. Pisum sativum L. Pisum sativum /Vicia sativa Vicia faba L. var. minor Vicia sativa L. Total pulses

seed seed seed seed seed seed

6 16 244 406 237 909

3 15 221 247 163 649

1 10 28 65 20 124

4 8 6 6 4 28

6 63 766 670 2 501 2 008

1 4 104 119 92 320


21 116 1 369 1 513 2 1 017 4 038

Fruits/nuts Corylus avellana L Fragaria vesca L. Juglans regia L. Rubus agg. fruticosus L. Rubus idaeus L. Rubus sp. cf. Vitis Total fruits/nuts

pericarp (shell) fragment achene (pip) endocarp (shell) fragment endocarp (pip) endocarp (pip) endocarp (pip) seed (pip)

1 1

1 1

1 1

2 1 3

3 3 1 7

2 2 2 6


5 2 4 2 1 2 3 19

Oil/fibre plants/vegetable Allium sp. Cannabis sativa L. Linum usitatissimum L. Spinacia oleracea L. cf. Spinacia oleracea L. Total oil/fibre plants and vegetables

bulb achene seed achene seed

1 1



2 2

2 1 1 2 6

2 2


2 3 1 1 4 11

Wild plants Aegopodium podagraria L. Agrostemma githago L. Aphanes arvensis L. Apiaceae Arrhenatherum elatius ssp. bulbosum Asperula arvensis L./Asperula sp. Atriplex hortensis L./Atriplex sp. Brassicaceae/Brassica/Sinapis Bromus sp. Bunias erucago L. Bupleurum rotundifolium L. Carex sp. Caryophyllaceae Centaurea cyanus L./Centaurea sp. Chenopodiaceae Chenopodium album L. Conium maculatum L. Cruciata sp. cf. Cuscuta Cyperaceae/Polygonaceae Fabaceae Fallopia convolvulus L. Festuca cf. pratensis Festuca /Lolium Fumaria officinalis L. Galeopsis angustifolia Ehrh. Galeopsis tetrahit L./Galeopsis sp. Galium aparine L. Galium spurium L. Galium tricornutum With. Galium sp. Geranium cf. robertianum Lathyrus cicera/sativus Lathyrus cf. ochrus Lapsana communis Linum catharticum L. Lithospermum arvense L. Lolium perenne L. Lolium temulentum L. Lolium temulentum L. Lolium temulentum type remotum Lolium temulentum type remotum Lolium sp. Lotus uliginosus/tenuis Matricaria perforata Mérat. Medicago lupulina L./Medicago sp. Papaver rhoeas L. Phleum pratense L. Plantago lanceolata L. Poa annua L. Poaceae Polygonaceae/Polygonum sp. Polygonum aviculare L. Polygonum lapathifolium/persicaria Ranunculus repens L. Rhinanthus minor /cf. Rhinanthus Rubiaceae Rumex crispus L. Rumex sp. Sherardia arvensis L. Silene latifolia Poir. Silene nutans/S. cf. nutans Silene vulgaris L. Silene sp. Sinapis arvensis/S. cf. arvensis Spergula arvensis L. Stellaria graminea L. Stellaria media Vill. Stellaria sp. Trifolium arvense/T. cf. arvense Trifolium montanum L. Trifolium cf. pratense Trifolium repens L. Trifolium sp. Urtica dioica/Urtica sp. Valerianella dentata L. Veronica hederifolia L. Vicia ervilia Willd. Vicia sp. Total wild plants

mericarp seed seed mericarp tuber achene achene seed caryopsis silicula mericarp achene seed/fruit achene achene achene mericarp achene seed achene seed achene caryopsis/spikelets caryopsis seed achene achene mericarp mericarp mericarp mericarp mericarp seed seed achene seed achene caryopsis caryopsis/spikelet spikelet caryopsis/spikelet spikelet caryopsis seed achene seed seed caryopsis/axis mericarp caryopsis/spikelet caryopsis achene achene achene achene seed achene achene achene achene seed seed seed seed seed seed seed seed seed seed seed seed seed seed achene achene seed seed seed

5 1 1 4/1 2 20 1 2 43 21 8 5 1 1 1 15 6 2/0 1 4/0 5 1 1 2 1 1 1 7 1 2 2 8 3 1 2 49 226

2 1 1 4 4 1 1 0/3 2 1 1 2 47 4 19 22 8 11 8 2 2 9 10 16/0 1 3/0 11 1 6 2 1 2 1 1 3 203

2 8 2 2 11 9 8 1 8 1 1 6/0 10 3 1 3 1 2 2 1 2 84

8 4 1 1 8 3 2 8/20 2 3 6 3 6 20/2 32 1 3 2 1 2 1 4 6 4 5 30/2 1 9 399/28 8 80/0 49 8 6 1 35 1 3 2 10 7 3 4 8 5 1 1 5 855

18 4 1 4 3 2 10/12 3 2 1 1 1 113 4 14 3 85 27 26 39 3 2 2 27 1 16 139/0 3 32/0 109 9 5 1 1 23 1 2 8 7 1 9 14 4 6 1 1 1 57 842

17 1 2 1 1 1 1 13/8 1 1 1 25 2 2 1 1 14 14 9 4 2 11 5 23 104/0 24/0 77 6 4 1 2 5 1 11 1 14 18 2 33 2 1 7 1 3 19 497

1 1 0/5 1 1/1 6 1 6 1 1 1 1 146/0 7/2 1 2 2 6 2 1 1 2 1 200



Other organic remains Goat/Sheep Arthropods (Insects, Acari) Mollusc (shell) Vertebrate Textile Agglomerate Indeterminate remains

7 1 1 24 1 812/28 13 150/2 261 27 10 2 9 11 1 2 86 5 3 19 12 37 12 3 11 58 1 12 2 4 26 17 3 4 3 2 132 2 907








3 911 217,3

2 255 85,1

1 314 187,7

3 185 455

6 045 143,9

2 477 330,3


19 835 178

needle fragment leaf fragment inflorescence bud, twig fragment

3 3

13 2 -

2 1

26 2 5

35 11

9 2

5 1 -

93 3 2 22

coprolite pupa shell fragment bone, tooth fibres amorphous residue

1 150 2

10 1 012 17

33 2

2 3 25 33

2 145 3

2 5 2 22 61


2 3 2 5 40 1 395 85

Total seeds/fruits Densities per litre of sediment Other plant macro-remains Abies alba Mill. Angiospermae Herbaceous Ligneous

25 31 1 1 4 9 2 14 13 2 4 2 35/49 9 5 10 1 1 2 3 216 18 21/3 75 1 1 7 178 81 55 67 1 6 3 4 4 6 10 75 6 30/2

ESM 3 Records of Spinacia oleracea archaeobotanical remains in European sites Context Dating (Fig. 8) (cent. A.D.)


End 12th13th 13th

2 3


Site name, locality (country)

Context of find

Type of remains and preservation (B = breadth)

Social context

Exotic and/or unfamiliar plants (co-occurring)


S. oleracea

Le Castellas, Montaillou (F)

Hearth and pit from a house Cesspit

1 carbonized prickly fruit and 4 carbonized seeds Waterlogged fruit

Mountain wealthy house


Hallavant 2007; Hallavant and Ruas 2008 Rösch 1991

cf. S. oleracea

Kelternplatz, Tübingen (D)


S. oleracea

Braunschweig (D)

Sewer 3121

S. oleracea

4 5 6

1st quarter 14th 1325-1375 14th-15th 1450-1575

S. oleracea Spinacia-type cf. S. oleracea



S. oleracea

Gördelingerstr./Schützenstr., Braunschweig (D) Hofdame, Rotterdam (NL) Looërenk, Zutphen (NL) Voorstraat 20, Kampen (NL) Hofstraat, Ijsselstein (NL)

Sewer VIa (sample G1) Cesspit BP 7 Well 116 (layer 7780) Cesspit (layer 10 and 11) Cesspit S13/567



cf. S. oleracea

De-Beyerd, Breda (NL)

Waste pit M13

Pollen (present)



cf. S. oleracea

Cesspit 23/M2

Many pollen grains



S. oleracea

Castle Batestein, Vianen (NL) Elfhuisen, Dordrecht (NL)

Few pollen grains


ca. 1500

S. oleracea (?)

Barrel-latrine 250 (sample 486) Cesspit BP1



13 14

1580-1600 16th-17th

S. oleracea (fruit) and cf. Spinacia (pollen) cf. S. oleracea S. oleracea



cf. S. oleracea



S. oleracea

17 18 19 20

16th-18th 1600-1625 1600-1610 1650-1700

cf. S. oleracea cf. S. oleracea cf. S. oleracea S. oleracea (?)


1st half 17th

cf. S. oleracea



cf. S. oleracea



cf. S. oleracea



S. oleracea

25 26

1610-1660 1700-1750

S. oleracea cf. S. oleracea



cf. S. oleracea



S. oleracea



S. oleracea



cf. S. oleracea

Dirk van Hasseltssteeg 12/14, Old Amsterdam (NL) Berghuijskazerne, Middelburg (NL)

Lange Strasse 49, Schwäbisch Hall (D) Krijstraat, Gorinchem (NL) Keizershof, 's-Hertogenbosch (NL)

De Sphinx, Maastricht (NL) Berghuijskazerne, Middelburg (NL) Oudezijds Achterburgwal 109, Old Amsterdam (NL) Mühlenstrasse 10, Stralsund (HST-112), (D) Karthuizersstraat, Amsterdam (NL) Complexe Entre-Deux, Maastricht (NL) Dokkershaven, Vlissingen (NL) Karthuizersstraat, Amsterdam (NL) Complex Entre-Deux, Maastricht (NL) Dokkershaven, Vlissingen (NL) Rozenstraat, Amsterdam (NL) Herengracht 7,

2 manure pits (13 and 8) Cesspit 14 False ceiling of a house (samples 6, 8, 10, 11) Large cesspit (sample 279) Large cesspit F200 (8 samples)

Pit 2 Large cesspit 7 Cesspit 6 Cesspit 5

1 waterlogged prickly fruit; B 6,4 mm 1 waterlogged prickly fruit; B 5,1 mm 1 pollen grain Pollen grains 18 pollen grains Few pollen grains

Few pollen grains 1-10 waterlogged seeds/fruits (pit 13) and pollen (pits 13 and 8) Pollen (present) Desiccated prickly fruits

Urban context

Carum carvi; Cydonia; Ficus; Foeniculum; Morus; Satureja hortensis Oryza sativa

Urban context

Ficus; Morus

Matthies 1985

Urban context Not specified by author Urban inhabitants (wealthy?) Cesspit in garden (wealthy) Hospice residents (some luxury food plants) Castle inhabitants

None None Cornus mas; Morus; Oryza sativa

Brinkkemper (pers.com) Van Smeerdijk et al. 2003 Van Haaster et al. 2001

Aframomum melegueta; Syzygium aromaticum

Van Haaster et al. 2002

A. melegueta; Cucumis sativus; Morus; S. aromaticum Capparis; C. mas; Morus; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; Prunus dulcis; P. persica; S. aromaticum Morus

Van Beurden and van Waijjen 2007 Van Haaster and Hänninen 2001 Van Haaster 2008

A. melegueta; Carthamus; Morus; Piper nigrum

Van Haaster 2004

Capparis; C. mas; Cucurbita pepo; Morus; S. aromaticum

Van Haaster and Hänninen 2004

Urban inhabitants (wealthy) Unknown (probably wealthy) Urban inhabitants, elitist contexts

Hellwig 1990

Urban context

Capparis; Syzygium aromaticum Cucurbita pepo; Helianthus annuus; Phaseolus vulgaris; Zea mays

Rösch et al. 1994

Pollen (diameter = 35µ)

Lord Van Arkel's house

Carthamus; Morus; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum

Van Haaster 2003a

Pollen in all samples: 16th (4 samples) 17th (3 samples) = few 18th (1 sample) = dozens Many pollen grains Pollen (regularly present) Pollen (present) Few pollen grains

Great noble house

A. melegueta; Capparis; Carthamus; Citrus; C. mas; Cucurbita pepo; Morus; cf. Myrtus; Olea; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; Punica; Satureja hortensis; S. aromaticum

Van Haaster 2003b

Monks (common food) Urban inhabitants, elitist contexts Unknown social context (probably wealthy) Urban plot, slightly wealthy guests of the tavern "Kleine Karthuizer" Probably wealthy

Morus Syzygium aromaticum Citrus; S. aromaticum Citrus; Morus; Olea; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum

Van der Meer 2008 Van Haaster and Hänninen 2004 Van Haaster 2004

Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum

Wiethold 2000

Capsicum annuum; Citrus; Morus; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; S. aromaticum Citrus; Morus; Piper nigrum; S. aromaticum

Van Haaster 2002

Urban inhabitants (wealthy?)

Carthamus; Citrus; Cucumis sativus; Morus; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; S. aromaticum cf. Trigonella Capsicum annuum; Citrus; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; S. aromaticum A. melegueta; Coriandrum; C. mas; S. aromaticum

Van Haaster 2009

Sewer, faecal layer (phase 4; sample 1) Cesspit Karth-29

1 waterlogged prickly fruit

Pit S142

Few pollen grains

Tank for manure 160

Pollen (present)

Tank for manure 195 Cesspit Karth-25

Pollen (present) Dozens of pollen grains

Cesspit S28

Few pollen grains

Tank for manure 192

Pollen grains (present)

Cesspit RO21-34/BP1

1 waterlogged seed/fruit and 1 pollen grain 1 pollen grain

Cesspit HE7

Urban context

Few pollen grains

Guests of the tavern "Kleine Karthuizer" Probably wealthy Urban inhabitants (wealthy?) Urban inhabitants of attached houses Urban inhabitants of

Van Haaster 2006a

Van Haaster 2002 Van Haaster 2006a

Carthamus; S. aromaticum

Van Haaster 2009

Citrus; Coffea; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; S. aromaticum

Van Haaster 2007, 2010; Gawronski et al. 2010 Van Haaster 2010

Capparis; Citrus; Morus; Olea europaea; Oryza sativa; Piper

Amsterdam (NL) 31


cf. S. oleracea


ca. 1800

S. oleracea

Oudezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam (NL) Wolters-NoordhoffComplex, Groningen (NL)

attached houses Cesspit OZV7 (layer 20 and 25) Large cesspit III (layer of muck 750A)

Many pollen grains 1 waterlogged prickly fruit; B 3-4 mm

Urban inhabitants (not necessarily wealthy) Urban inhabitants of market place

nigrum; Prunus dulcis; P. persica; Punica; Solanum lycopers.; S. aromaticum Citrus; Morus; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; S. aromaticum Caryocar cf. nuciferum; Cucumis melo; Cocos nucifera; Oryza sativa; Piper nigrum; Prunus persica

Van Haaster 2006b Van Zeist et al. 2000

References Gawronski J, Hulst M, Jayasena R, Veerkamp J (2010) Glasafval op het achtererf. Archeologische Opgraving Rozenstraat, Amsterdam (2006), (Amsterdamse Archeologische Rapporten 50) Hallavant C (2007) Les structures domestiques et les productions agricoles et alimentaires à Montaillou (Ariège) au siècle : résultats carpologiques et interprétations. Mémoire de Master recherche, Université Toulouse-Le Mirail Hallavant C, Ruas M-P (2008) Pratiques agraires et terroir de montagne: un regard archéobotanique sur Montaillou (Ariège) au XIIIe siècle. Archéologie du Midi Médiéval 26:93–129 Hellwig M (1990) Paläoethnobotanische Untersuchungen an mittelalterlichen und frühneuzeitlichen Pflanzenresten aus Braunschweig. Diss Bot 156. Cramer, Berlin Matthies M (1985) Stadtgrabung 32. Nutzpflanzenfunde des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit aus der Gördelingerstraße. In: Rötting H (ed) Stadtarchäologie in Braunschweig. Forsch Denkmalpfl Niedersachsen 3:215-219 Rösch M (1991) Botanische Untersuchungen an hochmittelalterlichen Siedlungsgruben vom Kelternplatz in Tübingen. Arch Ausgr Bad-Württ 1990:252-256 Rösch M, Karg S, Silmann M (1994) Vierhundert Jahre gelagert: Pfanzenreste aus Decken und Wänden. Botanische Dokumentation zu Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Landschaft aus der Langen Straße 49. In: Bedal A, Fehle I (eds) Hausgeschichten, Bauen und Wohnen im alten Hall und seiner Katherinenvorstadt. Katalog des Hällisch-Fränkisch Museums Schwäbisch Hall 8, pp. 474-491 Van der Meer W (2008) ‘…Ende rute sal tu eten1…’ Archeobotanisch onderzoek naar een beermonster van het terrein van De Koninklijke Sphinx in Maastricht (1500-1700). (BIAXiaal 379) BAAC BV, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Beurden L, Van Waijjen M (2007) Botanisch onderzoek van een (post)middeleeuws gasthuis op de vindplaats Breda-de Beyer. (BIAXiaal 307) Gemeente Breda. BAAC bv, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2002) Botanisch onderzoek naar de voedingsgewoonten in de herberg ‘de Kleine Karthuizer’ te Amsterdam (16001750). (BIAXiaal 128) Gemeente Amsterdam, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2003a) Op zoek naar de voedingsgewoonten van de familie Van Arkel. Een botanisch onderzoek aan de inhoud van enkele beerputten en mestkuilen uit de 14e-17e eeuw aan de Krijtstraat in Gorinchem. (BIAXiaal 177) BAAC BV, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2003b) Slofferbonen in hamelensop. Een botanisch onderzoek naar de voedingsgewoonten aan het Keizershof in 'sHertogenbosch 1500-1800. (BIAXiaal 169) Gemeente ’s-Hertogenbosch, afdeling Bouwhistorie, Archeologie en Monumenten, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2004) ‘Niet onaangenaam en sonder smaak’. Een botanisch onderzoek naar de voedingsgewoonten in de Nieuwezijds Armsteeg, Dirk van Hasseltssteeg, Zeedijk, Prins Hendrikkade en Oudezijds Achterburgwal in Amsterdam (14001700). (BIAXiaal 193) Gemeente Amsterdam, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2006a) Van ‘slymsucht, vryster-siekte, hoofdsszwijmel, zijde-wee en rooden-loop’ Ofwel: De resultaten van het archeobotanisch onderzoek op het Entre-Deux terrein in Maastricht (13e-18e eeuw). (BIAXiaal 256) BAAC BV, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2006b) ‘Tot yeders believen’, een botanisch onderzoek naar de voedingsgewoonten op de Oudezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam tussen 1550 en 1900. Gemeente Amsterdam, BIAX Consult, BIAXiaal 263, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2007) Archeobotanisch onderzoek aan een 18e-eeuwse beerput in de Rozenstraat te Amsterdam. (BIAXiaal 305) Gemeente Amsterdam, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2008) Archeobotanisch onderzoek aan enkele (post)middeleeuwse monsters van de locatie Elfhuizen in Dordrecht. (BIAXiaal 330) Gemeente Dordrecht, Bureau Projectmanagement, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2009) Vlissingen-Dokkershaven, resultaten van het archeobotanisch onderzoek. (BIAXiaal 421) ADC ArcheoProjecten, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H (2010) Archeobotanisch onderzoek aan enkele 18e-eeuwse beerputmonsters uit Amsterdam. (BIAXiaal 457) Gemeente Amsterdam, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H, Hänninen K (2001) Pollen en zaden uit een beerput behorend bij Kasteel Batestein te Vianen (15e-18e eeuw Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland). (BIAXiaal 352) Projectgroep Archeologie AHR, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H, Hänninen K (2004) Tiepels, Boberellen, Stekelbesien en Struyskoeck, Resultaten van het archeobotanisch onderzoek op het terrein van de Berghuijskazerne in Middelburg (1375-1725). (BIAXiaal 197) ADC ArcheoProjecten, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H, Brinkhuizen DC, Zeiler JT (2001) Archeobotanisch en –zoölogisch onderzoek van twee beerputten aan de Voorstraat in Kampen Ook verschenen als ArchaeoBone rapport nr. 24. (BIAXiaal 125) Gemeente Kampen, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Haaster H, Brinkhuizen DC, Zeiler JT (2002) Plantaardige en dierlijke resten uit een beerput (1480-1520) aan de Hofstraat in IJsselstein. Ook verschenen als ArchaeoBone Rapport 29. (BIAXiaal 133) Gemeente Kampen, BIAX Consult, Zaandam

Van Smeerdijk DG, Kubiak L, Van Rijn P (2003) Paleobotanisch onderzoek aan materiaal uit verschillende structuren van de opgraving Looërenk (gemeente Zutphen). (BIAXiaal 175) Gemeente Zutphen, BIAX Consult, Zaandam Van Zeist W, Cappers RTJ, Ouderkerken MG, Palfenier-Vegter RM, De Roller GJ, Vrede F (2000) Cultivated and wild plant in late- and post-medieval Groningen. A study of archaeological plant remains. Groningen Wiethold J (2000) ‘So nym dat ryß unde wasche id reyne unde wriff de hulsen alle wech’. Botanische Ergebnisse zu Ernährung und Umwelt im frühneuzeitlichen Stralsund am Beispiel der Kloake Mühlenstraße 10. Archäol Ber Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 7:221-239

ESM 4 Early evidence of spinach in various European written medieval sources Earliest descriptions of spinach in Christian Europe Date of occurrence Book title 1260 De Vegetabilibus, libri VII Basel edition 1585 Opera medica omnia vol.17 (r): translatio libri albuzale de medicinis simplicibus 1305 or 1306 Ruralium commodorum opus

Author, date Albrecht von Bollstädt (1193?- 1280) Arnau de Vilanova (1240/1250-1311) Pietro de' Crescenzi (1230-1320)

Status, profession of the author Bavarian theologian and philosopher French or Catalan physician, theologian, diplomat, astrologer and alchemist Italian agronomist

Reference Harvey 1981 Bois 1927 Harvey 1981

Evidence for the cultivation and trade of spinach in Europe, as recorded in agronomic treatise and account books Date of occurrence Sources 11th - 12th cent. Ibn al-‘Awwâm, Kitâb al-filâha 12th - 13th cent. Leudes

Location of the practice Seville (Andalusia, Spain) Barcelona (Catalonia), Perpignan (southern France) List of the gardener to the Archibishop of Canterbury Lambeth Palace (England) Counts of the Hesdin Hospital (for garden) Hesdin (northern France)

Type of mention (original term) Cultivation Rate of foodstuff toll (spinargiis)

Reference El Faïz 2000 Puig 2003

1321 - 1322 1331

Sowing of seeds (spynhach) Purchase of seeds (espinarde)

Harvey 1981 Richard 1892: 411-412

Earliest evidence for the consumption of spinach, as recorded in European medieval recipe books Date of occurrence Book title 1306, 1360 - 1366 Liber de Coquina 1324 Libre de Sent Soví 1392 - 1393 Ménagier de Paris 15th cent.

Author Anonymous Anonymous Anonymous, Parisian burgher Viandier dit de Taillevent Guillaume Tirel (13261395), cook of king Charles V

Origin of the author Original term Paris (France) spiniargia Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) Paris (France) espinars, espinoches Paris (France) espinoches

Cooking and Use Boiled then eaten cold with oil Beginning of Lent: fried and in water (in soup) Pie (with other green vegetables)

Reference Mulon 1971 Puig 2003 Pichon 1992 Pichon et al. 1991

References Bois D (1927) Les plantes alimentaires chez tous les peuples et à travers les âges. Histoire, utilisation, culture. Les phanérogames légumières. Encyclopédie biologique. Paul Lechevalier, Paris El Faïz M (ed) (2000) Ibn al-‘Awwâm, Kitâb al-Filâha (Le livre de l'agriculture 12th c. A.D.), French translation by J-J Clément-Mullet (edn 1866), Actes Sud, Arles Harvey J (1981) Medieval gardens. Batsford, London Mulon M (1971) Deux traités inédits d'art culinaire médiéval. Bulletin philologique et historique (jusqu'à 1610) du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques, Les problèmes de l’alimentation, année 1968, 1:369-435 Pichon J (ed) (1992) Le Ménagier de Paris. Traité de morale et d’économie domestique, composé vers 1393 par un bourgeois parisien. Régis Lehoucq, Paris Pichon J, Vicaire G, Aebischer P (eds) (1991) Le Viandier de Taillevent. Régis Lehoucq, Paris Puig C (2003) Les campagnes roussillonnaises au Moyen Age : dynamiques agricoles et paysagères entre le XIIe et la première moitié du XIVe siècle. Thèse, Université Toulouse-Le Mirail Richard J-M (1892) Thierry d'Hireçon, agriculteur artésien (13..-1328). Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes 53:383-416