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The Frontier of Islam: An Archaeobotanical Study of Agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula (c.700 – 1500 CE)

TREASURE, EDWARD,ROY (2020) The Frontier of Islam: An Archaeobotanical Study of Agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula (c.700 – 1500 CE). Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This PhD uses new archaeobotanical research and crop stable carbon (δ13C) isotope analysis to investigate medieval agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula (6th-15th centuries). It takes as its central theme an analysis of the long-standing debates surrounding the impact of the Islamic conquests (c.8th century) on agriculture. Were there major innovations after the conquests, or alternatively, was agriculture characterised by longer-term continuity? There is a long tradition of researching this topic in the Iberian Peninsula using documentary and archaeological evidence, yet archaeobotany has had little impact to date.
Archaeobotanical research was undertaken on eight medieval sites in two study areas in the north-east of the peninsula. The first study area examined two Islamic sites (10th-12th centuries) in Teruel, whilst the second examined six sites dating between the early medieval, Islamic and later medieval periods (6th-15th centuries) in the Huecha Valley, Zaragoza. The archaeobotanical results point towards an overall pattern of continuity in the range of crops cultivated, although a general trend towards increasing crop diversity can be identified through time, reflecting broader patterns seen across medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. Stable carbon isotope analysis of 290 single-entity samples (cereals, pulses) provided insights into crop husbandry practices, highlighting the use of rainfed and irrigated areas for cultivation. The results of this PhD are placed within a wider regional and pan-regional context through a synthesis of previous archaeobotanical research undertaken on Roman to later medieval sites in the Iberian Peninsula. Taken together, it is suggested that the Islamic conquests did not lead to a clear and definable break in agriculture, but rather a series of more incremental and gradual changes can be identified through time. The results have wider implications for understanding the longer-term continuity of Mediterranean agriculture.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Archaeobotany; Islamic; Spain; Stable Isotopes
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Jun 2020 15:33

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