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Beginnings of Olive Cultivation in Eastern Spain in Relation to Holocene Bioclimatic Changes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Jean-Frederic Terral
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Paléobotanique, Environnement et Archéologie—UPRESA 5059 CNRS, Université Montpellier II (Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc), Institut de Botanique, 163 rue A. Broussonnet, 34000, Montpellier, France
Genevieve Arnold-Simard
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Paléobotanique, Environnement et Archéologie—UPRESA 5059 CNRS, Université Montpellier II (Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc), Institut de Botanique, 163 rue A. Broussonnet, 34000, Montpellier, France

Abstract

Morphometric analyses show quantitative differences in anatomical characters of wood and charcoal between wild and cultivated olive. Samples from modern olive wood in eastern Spain (Levante) provide five distinctive anatomical criteria: growth width ring, vessel surface, number of vessels per group, vessel density, and vulnerability ratio. Multivariate analysis shows that growth ring width and number of vessels per group are both significant criteria for discriminating between wild and cultivated olive. Moreover, bioclimatic environments of wild olive (thermomediterranean and mesomediterranean stages) are distinguished by vessel density. Ancient olive charcoal from archaeological sites at Valencia and Alicante implies increasing aridification from the Cardial Neolithic to the Roman Period. This pattern may reflect the onset of a Mediterranean climate and human deforestation. Charcoal from cultivated specimens of early Neolithic age shows that the olive tree is the earliest cultivated temperate fruit.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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