Wednesday, August 02, 2006

14th century plants

Interesting. Enthusiastic people have been digging in front of the cathedral in my former home town of Åbo/Turku for two summers now, in order to track the early phases of the town. Since this intrigues me, I wish I'd be there to follow the excavations but since I'm not, I'm happy that there are regular posts on the findings (the weekly presentation of the findings is not in English unfortunately) and the proceedings.

There’s been some debate on how old the town really is, and the mission is to shed some light on the age of the town. It has been considered that the earliest settlement of the town had developed during medieval time. During the excavations last summer however, no evidence of proper building lots which could have been dated from the end of the 13th century was discovered in the area. The earliest evidence of settlement dates from the beginning of the 14th century, as the traces of ploughing marks discovered indicate. Thus, at least part of the area was under cultivation before the 14th century.

Now, the researchers have found interesting parts of plants and seeds. One litre of humus from the area contains about 4000 rudiments of plants. They now know of 350 different species of plants that was cultivated in around the time of 14th century Turku, among which hazel, plantain and seeds of fig, which is considered to be the oldest finding in the Nordic countries. Furthermore, rudiments of caraway, dill, walnut and parsley have been found which gives the researchers an idea of the scope of the contemporary trade.

By the way, check out the fashion report in the picture hereby (downloaded from here). It’s a piece of a spur of metal, an important part of the rider’s equipment, but also a sign of fashion awareness and status. Judging from where it was found, the researchers believe it stems back to the 15th century.

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