Click here to load reader

The introduction and diffusion of peach in ancient Sadori et alii.pdf · PDF filepersica is in fact exactly alike to that of Prunus dulcis, ... The introduction and diffusion of peach

  • View
    213

  • Download
    1

Embed Size (px)

Text of The introduction and diffusion of peach in ancient Sadori et alii.pdf · PDF filepersica...

  • 1. Introduction

    Prunus persica (L.) Batsch is a tree belonging to thefamily Rosaceae, subgenus Amygdalus, sectionEuamygdalus. Its botanic framing in the genus Prunusdates back to 1927 (Bailey). It is well known for its tastyand fleshy fruit and widely cultivated in theMediterranean area. It was exported by Spanish toAmericas during the 16th cent. and again from Chinaduring 19th cent.

    Around the second half of the 17th cent. BartolomeoBimbi, painter of the Medici court, represented in its stilllife paintings more than thirty types of peaches. At thebeginning of the 20th cent. more than 120 peach cultivarswere known in Italy (Molon 1901).

    Available information on the introduction of peachtree into Europe comes from independent data such aswritten sources, artistic depictions, and archaeologicalevidences. All these independent sources have to beconsidered in order to give a more completereconstruction on peach history.

    Considering botanical remains found in archaeolo-

    gical contexts, the fact that only the stone fruit (woodyendocarp) shows diagnostic features useful to determinethe species deserves mention. Both pollen (Beug 2004)and wood of peach cannot in fact be differentiated fromthose of other Prunus species. Wood anatomy of Prunuspersica is in fact exactly alike to that of Prunus dulcis,and very similar to other Prunus species (Schweingruber1990).

    Once believed as an indigenous tree of Persia, itsrecent genetic characterization led to establish (Bassiand Piagnani 2008) that its real geographic provenanceis western China. It was cultivated in Persia (presentIran) few centuries BC and was probably introducedinto Greece three centuries BC (Spiegel-Roy 1986;Zohary and Hopf 2000) and into central and WesternSouth-European regions by Romans; in Rome it waswell known in the second half of 1st cent. AD (LuciusJunius Moderatus Columella, De Re Rustica, 60-65AD). Pliny the Elder (Caius Plinius Secundus)mentioned many times peaches, mala persica (Malaappellamus, quamquam diversi generis, persica etgranata, XV.39) probably introduced thirty years

    45

    The introduction and diffusion of peach in ancient Italy

    Laura SADORI 1, Emilia ALLEVATO 2, Giovanna BOSI 3, Giulia CANEVA 4,Elisabetta CASTIGLIONI 5, Alessandra CELANT 1, Gaetano DI PASQUALE 2, Marco GIARDINI 1,Marta MAZZANTI 3, Rossella RINALDI 3, Mauro ROTTOLI 5 and Francesca SUSANNA 11 Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale, Universit di Roma La Sapienza, Roma - Italy2 Dipartimento di Arboricoltura, Botanica e Patologia vegetale, Universit di Napoli Federico II, Portici - Italy3 Dipartimento di Palaeobiologia e Museo dellOrto Botanico, Universit di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena - Italy4 Dipartimento di Biologia, Universit degli Studi Roma Tre, Roma - Italy5 Laboratorio di Archeobiologia dei Musei Civici di Como, Como - Italy

    Abstract Questo articolo nasce dalla cooperazione di ricercatori che portano avanti indagini archeobotaniche e iconografiche in camponazionale (Gruppi di interesse scientifico e tecnico operativo di Paleobotanica e di Botaniche Applicate della Societ BotanicaItaliana) ed internazionale (International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany). Lidea di cooperazione su una pianta di notevoleinteresse culturale nata in seno al progetto PaCE, che vede riunita in questo volume molta ricerca centrata sulla ricostruzionedella storia botanica dEuropa. In questo lavoro sono state verificate dagli autori sia le rappresentazioni iconografiche che lenotizie provenienti da fonti letterarie sul pesco. Il pesco venne introdotto in Italia nella prima met del I sec. d.C. Le fonti storicheindicano la sua presenza da circa il 40 d.C., ma i reperti archeobotanici sembrerebbero retrodatare di almeno un decennio la suapresenza, almeno in Italia settentrionale. I macroresti di pesco sono costituiti quasi esclusivamente dai resistenti endocarpilegnosi o da frammenti degli stessi. Sono spesso rinvenuti in quantitativi scarsi in contesti funerari ed in zone portuali di etRomana imperiale, ma talvolta trovati in grandi quantit in sedimenti archeologici ricchi dacqua, sepolti e spesso conservati incondizioni anossiche (i cosiddetti waterlogged remains riportati nella letteratura inglese, la cui traduzione italiana restisommersi non sembra rendere a pieno la denominazione originale di quei macroresti considerati un tempo come particolari restimummificati). La loro presenza in giardini privati e ville rustiche di et classica fa pensare che il pesco fosse utilizzato eapprezzato sia a scopo ornamentale che alimentare. Dati preliminari ottenuti da ricerche morfobiometriche condotte sui ncciolidi pesca sembrano indicare lesistenza di diverse cultivar gi durante il primo periodo di coltivazione in Italia (del resto eranostate importate dallAsia dove erano gi in fase ben avviata di coltivazione) e che una grande variabilit si sia conservata anchenel Medioevo. I ritrovamenti di et medievale e rinascimentale suggeriscono che allepoca il consumo di pesche era ridotto, senon limitato, a contesti abitativi particolarmente ricchi quali castelli o palazzi signorili.

    P l a n t s a n d C u l t u r e : s e e d s o f t h e c u l t u r a l h e r i t a g e o f E u r o p e - 2 0 0 9 E d i p u g l i a s . r . l . - w w w . e d i p u g l i a . i t

  • THE INTRODUCTION AND DIFFUSION OF PEACH IN ANCIENT ITALY

    before the writing of his work Naturalis Historia(published in 77-78 AD), e.g., in the first half of the firstcent. AD.

    In Roman times, peaches were pickled (preserved invinegar) as indicated in the recipes (Duracina Persicaut diu durent: eligito optima, et mitte in muriam posteradie exime, et spongiabis diligenter, et collocabis in vas.Fundes salem, acetum, satureiam, II. 28) ascribed toApicius (De re coquinaria) in a cooking book probablydating back to the 4th cent. AD. Marcus Gavius Apiciuswas a notorious Roman gourmet and lover of luxurywho actually lived in the 1st cent. AD. He is sometimesmistakenly said to be the author of the Romancookbook, which was actually compiled about 300years later; there is in fact no early evidence that Apiciuswas an author of it.

    In Northern Italy the oldest peach finds are dated atthe latest at the beginning of the first cent. AD(Augustan-Tiberian age 29 BC-37 AD) and consisted incharred endocarps. The funerary, either votive gift orbanquet rests, were both found in Lombardy, in thenecropoles of Angera, near Varese (Castelletti 1985) andof Manerbio, near Brescia (Castiglioni and Rottoliunpublished, this article). Bandini Mazzanti et al.(2001a, 2001b) hypothesized a wide consumption oflarge size peach fruits in Emilia Romagna, especially inMutina (the present Modena) since the first decades ofthe first cent. AD (15-40 AD). Peach tree is portrayed inthe domus wall paintings of the towns destroyed by theVesuvius eruption of 79 AD, and its fruit rests are onlypartly investigated (e.g. Ciaraldi 2000; Robinson 2002;Ciarallo 2004), but not very abundant (Ciarallo, personalcommunication). It is worth to mention the fact thatpeach remains found in the filling of the euripus of a richdomus from Privernum, a Roman town of SouthernLatium (Giardini, Sadori and Susanna, this article)occurred in the same half century (50-100 AD) of thedramatic destruction of the Roman towns at the foot ofVesuvius. Castelletti (1973-1974) reported on the findingof the content (162 peach endocarps) found in a wineamphora (possibly dated at the 1st-2nd cent. AD from anexcavation of the Roman harbour of Aquileja. Hundredsof peach stone fruits have been recovered in Rome, fromthe filling (archaeologically dated at the second half of4th cent. AD) of the main drainage sewers of Colosseum(Follieri 1975; Celant 1998); the obstruction occurred incorrespondence with the last games performed in theamphitheatre.

    Peach trees found suitable environmental conditionsin the Mediterranean basin since their spread in centraland western Mediterranean carried out by Romans.Historical sources seem to indicate that its introductioninto the Gallia province is reported to have occurredparticularly early and not through Italy, but through theBalkans (Bassi and Piagnani 2008). Anyway a passage

    through Italy should be admitted, unless an unlikelynorthern Alps path is inferred. In Spain, Cataloniarecords the oldest find at Lleida (Alonso Martinez 2005),dated at the 1st cent. AD.

    The diffusion of this fleshy fruit towards the north ofthe Roman empire seems to have occurred early too.Endocarps from Neuss on Rhine river (Knrzer 1967,1970, 1984) and from Xanten (Knrzer 1989) are amongthe earliest finds (1st cent. AD); in 2003 Bakels andJacomet, in a review on luxury fruits introduced byRomans into central Europe, evidenced that peach wasfound in five central European sites before 50 AD, andin fifteen sites between 50 and 100 AD (e.g. Jacomet1988; Jacomet and Wagner 1994). It disappeared fromthe archaeobotanical central European records after 250AD (Bakels and Jacomet 2003).

    2. Peach in iconography

    Different authors mentioned the presence of peachrepresentation in Pompeian pictures (Comes 1879;Casella 1950; Jashemshki 1979, Jashemski et al. 2002;Ciarallo, 1992). The oldest artistic representations ofpeaches in Italy seem in fact to be the ones found intwo fragments of wall paintings, dated back to the 1st

    cent. AD, in Herculaneum, Casa dei cervi, now pre -served in the National Archaeological Museum inNaples (fig. 1). The historical records of Martial(Epigrams XIII, IV) testify that in that century this fruitwas appreciated and widespread among Romans. ThePompeian farmers were used to graft this new speciesof Prunus on apricot and plum trees (De Caro 2001).Other details of this fruit are recorded in the DomusSirici, owned by a rich merchant, in Pompeii (Comes1879) in both cases, we can argue that therepresentation of a rare fruit was a symbol of power forthe rich owner of the

Search related