Food for the soul, wood for the body: archaeobotanical studies on charred plant remains from tumuli No 4 and No 5 at Golemiya kairyak locality near the village of Mogila, Yambol region, Southeastern Bulgaria


  • Hanna Hristova PhD student at the Department of Interdisciplinary Research and Archaeological Map of Bulgaria, National Archaeological Institute with Museum – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2 Saborna Str., 1000 Sofia


plant offerings, archaeobotanical remains, tumuli, cremation burials, Roman period, the province of Thrace


Up to now there has been a little archaeobotanical research on plants and plant-based foods utilised in mortuary practices during the Roman period in the province of Thrace. This paper presents the preliminary archaeobotanical study on four cremation burials in tumuli No 4 and No 5, part of the cemetery at Golemiya Kairyak locality, located in the northern part of the Roman province of Thrace (present-day southeastern Bulgaria). Based on the analyses of the burial practices and inventory, the tumuli and the related structures could be dated between the second half of the 2nd and the early 3rd century AD.

All of the studied cremation burial pits contained pyre debris and grave inventories. Three of these features showed a typical assemblage consisting of cereals, bread and/or similar pro- cessed food remains, as well as nuts and fruits. Among the charred plant remains deposited in the grave pits were locally grown species such as T. monococcum L., T. aestivum L. ssp. com- pactum, Vicia faba L., Cicer arietinum L., Juglans regia L., Vitis vinifera ssp. vinifera, Pyrus communis L., as well as imported kernels of Pinus pinea L. The archaeobotanical material from tumuli No 4 and No 5 provides opportunity to study some of the taphonomic processes docu- mented in burial contexts and successfully complements the data about ritual use of plants in mortuary practices in the province of Thrace.






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