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Titolo: Archaeological seeds and local varieties of edible fruits: morphology through time
Data di pubblicazione: 26-mar-2015
Abstract: This research is divided in five chapters: [CHAPTER 1] describes the research carried out on waterlogged plant remains from a Late Bronze Age well found near Cabras, in Sa Osa area (Central-West Sardinia). The combination of macro-remain and pollen analyses in this unique context provided important information for exploring not only local subsistence systems but also human impact on the surrounding environment. Grapes and figs were the most abundant remains together with other fruits and edible vascular plants. Remains of melon and mulberry were identified being the earliest remains of these two species for Western Europe. [CHAPTER 2] concerns the plant remains contained in some Phoenician-Punic amphorae dated to the 6th-5th and the 3rd-2nd century BC century BC found at the bottom of Santa Giusta lagoon (Central-West Sardinia). Many of these amphorae contained ovine/caprine bones with butchery marks associated with grapes and other fruits, as plums, sloes, and junipers, which may have played a role in meat preservation. Other fruits and nuts found in the same contexts, such as watermelon, bottle gourd, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds and olives were probably related to food trade. [CHAPTER 3] describes the phenotypic characterization achieved by seed features compared with molecular analysis on modern Cucumis melo genotypes. A set of 124 accessions of Cucumis melo has been selected for molecular and morpho-colourimetric analyses plus an additional selection of accessions of C. sativus, Citrullus lanatus and C. colocynthis used to highlight seed morphology distances among genus and species. A strong correlation has been found between the two characters. Both molecular and seed morpho-colorimetrical analyses confirm the existence of two melon subspecies while an intermediate group has also found. [CHAPTER 4] describes the comparison of molecular and morphological seed features of Late Bronze Age melon seeds found in Sa Osa (Chapter 1) with a set of 172 accessions of melon landraces. Both molecular and morphological analyses confirmed that these archaeological seeds did not belong to a wild species, but to a cultivated melon, likely to be an intermediate form between the two melon subspecies. Reasonably, this primitive melon could be attributed to an ancestral non-sweet or low sugar form of chate, flexuosus or ameri varieties. [CHAPTER 5] describes de comparison of molecular and morphological seed features of Medieval melon and watermelon seeds discovered in a well in via Satta, in the centre of Sassari. Molecular characterization has been carried out on the same reference set described in Chapter 4 while the morphological comparison of watermelon seeds was based on 36 Citrullus lanatus and C. colocynthis landraces. Molecular and morphological analyses matched with both sweet and non-sweet melon accessions. Data suggests that several types of melon were already cultivated in Medieval Age. Morphological characterization of watermelon seeds evidenced a close relation with Sardinian, Spanish and Asian landraces, suggesting that watermelons were already close to modern varieties.
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