Cite this as: Hristova, H. and Petkova, K. 2023 What's Down the Hole? Archaeobotanical evidence on plant subsistence and vegetation during the Hellenistic period at an archaeological site near Voditza village, north-eastern Bulgaria, Internet Archaeology 62. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.62.8
The archaeological site 5012-West in the territory of the village of Voditza, Targovishte Region, north-eastern Bulgaria, is interesting because of its features and wide chronological range. From an area of 7000m², a total of 116 structures from various chronological periods have been excavated. However, pits from the Hellenistic Period (late 3rd to early 1st century BC) are most numerous and provide invaluable archaeobotanical evidence on plant subsistence and local vegetation. The archaeobotanical remains have been recovered from flotation samples, collected from pitfills. The archaeobotanical assemblage comprises carbonised remains from several annual cereal crops – hulled and free-threshing wheats, naked barley (Hordeum vulgare var. nudum L.), millet (Panicum miliaceum L.), oat (Avena sativa L.) and chaff. The weedy flora is represented by annual ruderal and synanthrophic species such as goosefoot (Chenopodium album L.), bedstraw (Galium aparine L.), knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare L.), and wild mustard (Sinapis arvensis L.). Based on the discovered plant remains, we can only propose a partial reconstruction of the agricultural practices and local vegetation cover. However, the collection of samples from specific contexts – storage facilities and pits, provided an opportunity to observe the 'secondary environment' of the utilised plant resources and to identify possible depositional processes. Thus, taphonomic and contextual analyses gave us important insights into the behavioural factors that affected the composition of the archaeobotanical assemblage.
Figure 1: Location of the site and aerial photos in the beginning of the rescue excavations in 2020. Image credit: K. Petkova
Figure 2: Distribution of structures from different periods of occupation of the site (within the boundaries of the studied area). Image credit: K. Petkova
Figure 3: Charred plant remains a-g) remains of cereal crops (magnification x10); h-k) seeds of grass species (magnification x20). Microscope images: H. Hristova
Figure 4: Structure 11 with the thick layer of burnt organic remains at the bottom and quantitative distribution of plant species, found in the samples.
Figure 5: Structure 50 and quantitative distribution of plant remains, found inside the cup Dacica.
Figure 6: Structure 51 and quantitative distribution of plant remains, found around the Rhodian amphora.
Figure 7: Structure 51 and quantitative distribution of plant remains, found around the cup type Dacica.
Figure 8: Structure 55: a-b) the ceramic vessels, deposited inside the pit; c) transverse plane of charred wood fragment of Quercus sp.; magnification 10x.
Figure 9: Structure 99: a-b) the ceramic vessels, deposited inside the pit; c) transverse plane of charred wood fragments of Quercus sp. and Fagus sylvatica L.; magnification 10x.
Berzovan, A., Micle, D., Stavilă, A., Floca, C. and Rogozea, O. 2014 'The Dacian ritual pits from Unip - "Dealu Cetățuica"', Mousaios XIX, Buzău, 11-32.
Balkanska, A. 1998 The Thracian Sanctuary at 'Demir Baba Teke', Sboryanovo II, Sofia: Pensoft.
Gaydarska, B. 2008 Landscape, Material Culture and Society in South East Bulgaria, Durham Research Online Deposited in DRO: 9 December 2008, Durham: Durham University Library. https://etheses.dur.ac.uk/3052/
Georgieva, R. 2015 'Ritual pits' in J. Valeva, E. Nankov and D. Graninger (eds) A Companion to Ancient Thrace, Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. 144-57. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118878248.ch11
Ginev, G. 2000 The Thracian Mounds at Kralevo Village, Targovishte District (in Bulgarian), Varna.
Hawthorne, K. 2009 Balkan Pit Sanctuaries: Retheorising the Archaeology of Religion, Doctoral Thesis. Newnham College, University of Cambridge.
Hubbard, R.N. 1980 'Development of agriculture in Europe and the Near East: evidence from Quantitative Studies', Economic Botany 34, 51-67. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02859554
Hristova, I. 2015 'The use of plants in ritual context during Antiquity in Bulgaria: overview of the archaeobotanical evidence', Be-JA Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology/Бе-СА Българско е-Списание за Археология 5, 117-35. https://be-ja.org/index.php/journal/article/view/be-ja-5-2-2015-117-135
Pearsall, D. 2015 Paleoethnobotany: A Handbook of Procedures, 3rd edition, London/New York: Routledge.
Stoyanov, T. 2015 Sboryanovo Vol. III. The Thracian City. City Planning, Fortification System, Architecture, Sofia.
Valamoti, S.M., Gkatzogia, E., Hristova, I. and Marinova, E. 2018 'Iron Age cultural interactions, plant subsistence and land use in southeastern Europe inferred from archaeobotanical evidence of Greece and Bulgaria' in St. Gimatzidis, M. Pieniążek and S. Mangaloğlu-Votruba (eds) Archaeology Across Frontiers and Borderlands. Fragmentation and Connectivity in the North Aegean and the Central Balkans from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, Vienna: Austrian Academy of Science Press. 269-90. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv92vpnk.16
Varbanov, V. 2013 Sexaginta Prista. Vol. I. The Thracian Pit Complex, Rousse: Regional Museum of History.
Георгиева, Р. 1991 Обредни ями в Тракия (края на II–I хил. пр. н.е.), Археология , София, 1-10.
Георгиева, Р. 1999 ' Георгиева. Храна и хранене (края на II–I хилядолетие пр.н.е.)' in Р. Георгиева, Т. Спиридонов and М. Рехо (eds), Етнология на траките. София: Университетско издателство "Св. Климент Охридски", 71–111.
Георгиева, P. 2016 'Aграрно стопанство и търговия с храни в Древна Тракия', Thracia XXI, Българска академия на науките, Издателство на БАН "Проф. М. Дринов", София. 109-132.
Маринова, E., Георгиев, П. and De Cupere, B. 2018 'Природната сред и нейното ползване от човека през бронзовата епоха на територията на България' Злато и Бронз. Метали, технологии и междурегионални контакти на територията на Източните Балкани през бронзовата епоха, НАИМ БАН, София. 31–41.
Попова, Цв. 2002 'Анализ на растителен материал от надгробната "Дядо Минчова" могила край с. Житосвят, Карнобатско', in Д. Момчилов, Н. Чакърова-Кръстева and Й. Станева (eds) История и култура на Карнобатския край 4, Варна: Зограф. 167-70.
Попова, Цв. 2009 'Палеоботанически каталог на местоположения и проучени растителни останки на територията на България (1980–2008)', Интердисциплинарни изследвания ХХ–ХХI, 71–166.
Попова, Цв. 2018 'Растителни останки от светилища и некрополи', Интердисциплинарни изследвания XXV, 39–62.
Internet Archaeology is an open access journal based in the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI are given.
Internet Archaeology content is preserved for the long term with the Archaeology Data Service. Help sustain and support open access publication by donating to our Open Access Archaeology Fund.