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New archaeobotanical evidence for Trigonella foenum-graecum L. from the 4th century Serdica

Popova, Tzvetana
Quaternary international 2017 v.460 pp. 157-166
Brassica nigra, Trigonella foenum-graecum, archaeobotany, crops, economic valuation, fenugreek, mustard seed, seeds, Bulgaria
This study investigates fenugreek and black mustard seed storages, discovered for the first time in an archaeological context in the territory of Bulgaria. A large quantity of charred fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum) and black mustard seeds (Brassica nigra) was found in room N 12 of building A 2 in a layer related to the final quarter of the 2nd century AD. The archaeobotanical samples were collected during rescue excavations carried out in Sofia in advance of the construction of the subway station No 8 in 2012–2013. The stores of Trigonellа foenum-graecum and Brassica nigra unambiguously indicate that these plants had economic value and, considering their properties, also possible medical application. The archaeobotanical evidence of fenugreek in Europe and particularly in the Balkan Peninsula is quite rare, making its discovery in the territory of Bulgaria very important for studying its cultivation history. The plant findings from “Subway station 8”, i.е. the Serdica station also provide important information on the diversity of crop plants used in this period. Their discovery at this site contributes to the archaeobotanical knowledge of the period and provides further insights into the wide cultural and economic interactions within the ancient Graeco-Roman world and within the Mediterranean.