The role of <em>Chenopodium</em> in the subsistence economy of pioneer agriculturalists on the northern frontier of the Linear Pottery culture in Kuyavia, central Poland

Publication date: November 2019

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 111

Author(s): Aldona Mueller-Bieniek, Peter Bogucki, Joanna Pyzel, Magda Kapcia, Magdalena Moskal-del Hoyo, Dorota Nalepka


When found on settlements of early European farmers, the dietary role of seeds of Chenopodium album (commonly called goosefoot or fat-hen) is difficult to assess. It is often hard to determine whether the small black seeds are modern or ancient. Rarely are they found in sufficient concentrations to warrant radiocarbon dating. Palaeobotanical sampling at the Neolithic site of Ludwinowo 7 in north-central Poland yielded abundant carbonized C. album seeds but only a modest quantity of domesticated cereals (einkorn wheat, Triticum monococcum, and the new type of glume wheat, NGW) and other cultivated plants (flax, Linum usitatissimum, and peas, cf. Pisum sativum). Samples of C. album seeds and carbonized wheat chaff from the same context produced consistent dates in the late 6th millennium B.C. The frequency of C. album type seeds at Ludwinowo suggests their presence was not incidental but intentional, contributing significantly to the diet of the inhabitants in multiple ways. We propose that wheat cultivation, although practiced, was not central to the subsistence economy of the inhabitants of Ludwinowo.