Archaeobotanical science is a sub-field of modern archaeology. It studies plant remains from archaeological sites in order to understand the relationships between plants and our ancestors from the Stone Age to the recent past. Archaeobotany may give answers to variety of ecological and plant economical questions: which plants were cultivated in the past, which weeds were the most common, where were the crop fields located, what harvesting methods were used, where were the grains stored, which plants were grown as raw materials for fibres, and which were used for dyeing, what kind of timber was used to build houses… In short, archaeobotany provides insight into former life quality.
Seeds can be preserved over enormous time spans if they are carbonized and maintained in fairly constant environmental conditions. Carbonization occurs when a seed is burned and turned to charcoal, such as in a cooking fire. Other plant parts, such as leaves, flowers, or roots, are far less likely to be preserved. Thanks to the fire infernos in which entire villages were destroyed, or minor cooking accidents (when clumsy cooks burn lunch), we are now able to (partially) reconstruct plant economy in a certain area at a particular time or time-span. One of the most important achievements of the archaeobotany is that the basis of crop production was set in the early Stone Age: It reveals equal importance of cereal (e.g. carbohydrates), pulse (e.g. vegetable protein) and oil plant (e.g. vegetable fat) production.
“From Field to Table in the Prehistory”, May 2008.
Museum of Vojvodina is the only institution in the country with an archaeobotanical collection. It was founded in 2008. Thirty-nine collections store almost 140.000 charred seeds and fruits, mainly of cultivated plants and associated weeds, from four archaeological sites: Gradina upon Bosutu near Vašica, Čarnok near Bačko Dobro Polje, Vranj near Hrtkovci and Stari vinogradi near Čurug. Collections cover a period of seven centuries, a period between the late Bronze Age and the Migration Period. It contains a hundred different plant species: 11 cereals, 6 pulses, 3 oil plants etc. Six tree species were represented in the collection.
What did the ancient Vojvodinians eat?
Delicacy from the Iron Age (950 B.C. – 0 A.D.):
“Panzerotti” With Wild Vegetables
Dough: mix flour, eggs, fat, salt and water.
Filling: leaves of nettle and white goosefoot blanch in boiling water, drain and than chop. Mix with cheese and hazelnuts. Add 2 egg yolks, 1 egg white, salt (and pepper optional). Chopped onion sauté briefly in fat. Add flour and milk. Leave to cook for a while. Add pre-made mixture of wild vegetables.
Roll the dough to an even 0.3 cm thickness with a rolling pin. Cut out as many “Panzerotti” as possible using a glass as a cuter (circles approx. 7 cm in diameter). Put a scant teaspoon of filling on one half of each of the circles. Fold the dough over into little crescent shapes, pressing down to seal the edges with your fingers.
Cook “Panzerotti” in boiling, salted water until they emerge to the surface. Drain them well. You can also pour fried poppy seeds over..
Or, you can also deep-fry “Panzerotti” in fat until golden.
Enjoy! “Panzerotti” are best served piping hot.
• 1 cup broomcorn millet (or barley) flour
• 1 cup common wheat flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon fat, butter or oil
• leaves of nettle and young leaves of white goosefoot
• 2 tablespoons grated, salty sheep’s or goat’s cheese
• 1 cup minced hazelnuts (or 1 cup roasted beech acorns)
• 2 eggs
• 1 large onion
• 1 teaspoon fat, butter or oil
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1 cup milk
• 2 tablespoons poppy seeds.
Common and scientific names of plants used in the recipe:
Broomcorn Millet (Panicum miliaceum L.)
Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
Nettle (Urtica dioica L.)
White Goosefoot (Chenopodium album L.)
Hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.)
Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.)
Onion (Allium cepa L.)
Poppy (Papaver somniferum L.)