Archaeobotanical analysis of a roman funerary context in Mutina: via Ferrari

Main Article Content

Federica Riso


archaeobotany, roman, necropolis, Mutina, carpology, anthracology, multidisciplinary


The archaeological investigations of the funerary context of via Ferrari in Modena (northern Italy) carried on in 2010 brought to light two cremation burials of the Lollia gens of the 1st century AD. An archaeobotanical analysis (seeds/fruits and charcoals) has been carried out in order to find remains of meals involved in the ritual ceremonies, as evidence of the attendance of the sepulcher. Soil samples taken have been examined at the Laboratory of Palynology and Palaeobotany in Modena. Here the soil-sieving operation was carried out using piled sieves of differing mesh sizes (10 mm – 0.5 mm – 0.2 mm), as well as screening and microscopic identification. A total 836 seeds/fruits and 19 taxa have been identified and they mostly belong to cultivated plants or, anyway, plants that can be used as food, as Cereals, Pulses and Fruit plants. The aim of the anthracological analysis was a preliminary essay. A total of 15 charcoals were examined and the only taxon identified was ash (Fraxinus).

Abstract 52 | PDF Downloads 40


Accorsi, C. A., Bandini Mazzanti, M., Forlani, L., Mercuri, A. M., & Trevisan Grandi, G. (1999). An overview of Holocene Forest Pollen Flora/Vegetation of the Emilia-Romagna Region e Northern Italy. Archivio Geobotanico 5: 3–37.
Anderberg, A. L. (1994). Atlas of Seeds and Small Fruits of Northwest-European Plant Species (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, East Fennoscandia, and Iceland) with Morphological Descriptions: Resedaceae-Umbelliferae. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm.
Berggren, G. (1981) Atlas of seeds and small fruits of Northwest-European plant species with morphological descriptions. Part 3, Salicaceae-Cruciferae. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm
Bosi, G., Mercuri, A. M., Bandini Mazzanti, M., Florenzano, A., Montecchi, M. C., Torri, P., Labate, D., & Rinaldi, R. (2015). The evolution of Roman urban environments through the archaeobotanical remains in Modena, Northern Italy. Journal of Archaeological Science 53: 19–31.
Bosi, G., Herchenbach, Buldrini, M., F., Rinaldi, R., & Bandini Mazzanti, M. (2017). On the trail of date-plum (Diospyros lotus L.) in Italy and its first archaeobotanical evidence. Economic Botany 71(2): 133–146.
Bouby, L., & Marinval, P. (2004). Fruits and seeds from Roman cremations in Limagne (Massif Central) and the spatial variability of plant offerings in France. Journal of Archaeological Science 31: 77–86.
Cappers, R. T., Bekker, J., & Jans, R.M. (2006). Digitale Zadenatlas van Nederland. Barkhuis, Groningen.
Cooremans, B. (2008). The Roman cemeteries of Tienen and Tongeren: results from archaeobotanical analysis of the cremation graves. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17: 3–13.
Fahn, A., Werker, E., & Baas, P. (1985). Wood Anatomy and Identification of Trees and Shrubs from Israel and Adjacent Regions. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.
Ferrari, A. (2006). Dizionario di Mitologia. UTET, Turin.
Ferro, L., & Monteleone, M. (2014). Miti romani. Einuadi, Turin.
Jacquiot, C., Trenard, Y., & Dirol, D. (1973). Atlas d’anatomie des bois des Angiospermes. Centre technique du bois, Paris.
Malnati, L., Pellegrini, S., & Pulini, I. (2009). Mutina oltre le mura. Recenti scoperte archeologiche sulla Via Emilia. Museo Civico Archeologico Etnologico, Modena.
Mansuelli, G. A. (1963). Monumento funerario, in Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica (pp. 192-210). Rome: Treccani,

Marguerie, D., & Hunot, J. Y. (2007). Charcoal analysis and dendrology: data from archaeological sites in north-western France. Journal of Archaeological Science 34(9): 1417–1433.
Maspero, A., & Rottoli, M. (2005). Il microscavo e le analisi di laboratorio: metodologie e risultati, in M. P. Rossignani, M. Sannazaro, & G. Legrottaglie (Eds), La Signora del sarcofago. Una sepoltura di rango nella necropoli dell’Università cattolica: ricerche archeologiche nei cortili dell’Università cattolica. Volume 4 di Contributi di archeologia (pp. 55–81). Vita e Pensiero, Milan.
Matterne, V., & Derreumaux, M. (2008). A Franco-Italian investigation of funerary rituals in the Roman world, ‘les rites et la mort à Pompéi’, the plant part: a preliminary report. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17: 105–112.
Monckton, A. (2000). Charred Plant remains, in I. M. Ferris, L. Bevan & R. Cutler (Eds), The excavation of a Romano-British shrine at Orton’s Pasture, Rocester, Staffordshire (pp. 67–71). British Archaeological Reports British Series 314. Archaeopress, Oxford.
Neef, R., Cappers, R. T. J., & Bekker, R. M. (2012). Digital Atlas of Economic Plants in Archaeology. Barkhuis and Groningen University Library, Groningen.
Ovidio, Fasti II, 535
Ovidio, Fasti III, 533–534
Ovidio, Fasti V, 436–440
Plinio, Historia Naturalis XIII, 42
Preiss, S., Matterne V., & Latron, F. (2005). An approach to funerary rituals in the Roman provinces: plant remains from a Gallo-Roman cemetery at Faulquemont (Moselle, France). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 14: 362–372.
Rettore, E., & Rottoli, M. (2008). I reperti organici connessi agli oggetti metallici della necropoli di Bernate Ticino (MI) (pp. 246–248). Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Lombardia, Milan.
Riso, F. M. (2014). La festa dell’addio. Nulla Die, Piazza Armerina.
Robinson, M. (2002). Domestic burnt offerings and sacrifices at Roman and Pre-Roman Pompeii, Italy. Vegetation History and Archeobotany 11: 93–99.
Rottoli, M., & Castiglioni, E. (2011). Plant offerings from Roman cremations in Northern Italy: a review. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 20: 495–506.
Rovira, N., & Chabal, L. (2008). A foundation offering at the Roman port of Lattara (Lattes, France): the plant remains. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17: 191–200.
Salvayre, C., & Durand, A. (2011). The cremation structures of the Roman Empire: anthracological data versus historical sources. 5th International Meeting of Charcoal Analysis: Charcoal as Cultural and Biological Heritage, Sep 2011, Valencia, Spain: 191–192
Schweingruber, F. H. (1990). Anatomy of European woods. An atlas for the identification of European trees, shrubs and dwarf shrubs. Paul Haupt, Stuttgart.
Sostaric, R., Dizdar, M., Kusan, D., Hrsak, V., & Marecovic, S. (2006). Comparative Analysis of Plant Finds from Early Roman Graves in Ilok (Cuccium) and Scitarjevo (Andautonia), Croatia – A Contribution to Understanding Burial Rites in Southern Pannonia. Collegium Antropologicum 30(2): 429–436.
Vernet, J. L., Ogereau, P., Figueiral, I., Machado Yanes, C., & Uzquiano, P. (2001). Guide d’identification des charbons de bois préhistoriques et récents. Sud-ouest de l’Europe: France, Péninsule ibérique et îles Canaries. Karstologia 40: 61–62.
Zach, B. (2002). Vegetable offerings on the Roman sacrificial site in Mainz, Germany: short report on the first results. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 11: 101–106.
Zohary, D., Hopf, M., & Weiss, E. (2012). Domestication of Plants in the Old World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.