The rural folks of the Basque Country in northern Spain celebrated Christmas raising a toast. In fact, vine cultivation was very intensive in Zaballa, one of the over 300 deserted settlements known in Alava-Araba province, archaeologists have now discovered.
Researchers at University of the Basque Country have evidence that the terraced fields in Zaballa, which were built in the 10th century and still perfectly visible in the landscape, were devoted to intensive cultivation of vines.
"Archaeo-botanical studies of seed remains found in the excavations and pollen studies have provided material evidence of the existence of vine cultivation in a relatively early period like the 10th century," explained Juan Antonio Quiros-Castillo, lead author of the research.
This evidence is also supported by the metal tools discovered and which had been destined for this very use, and the study of the agrarian spaces, "which owing to the nature of the crop spaces built and the agrarian practices developed, they are not compatible with cereal crops but they are with vines", the study added.
These discoveries have been made possible by the use of archaeological excavation protocols, and geo-archaeological sampling and analysis, which are new in Spain and which have allowed the cultivated fields to be dated and the agrarian cycle to be studied.
The findings were published in the journal Quaternary International.
--IANS (Posted on 24-12-2013)