The common and the rare: A review of Early Modern Dutch plant food consumption based on archaeobotanical urban cesspit data

Hondelink, M. & Schepers, M., Sep-2020, In : Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. 29, 5, p. 553-565 13 p.

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  • The common and the rare: a review of Early Modern Dutch plant food consumption

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Past plant food consumption has been studied diachronically and spatially for many Dutch settlements. However, research into the plant food consumption of Early Modern Dutch inhabitants of urban settlements is somewhat underrepresented in the scientific archaeobotanical literature. To fill this knowledge gap, archaeobotanical data from cesspits dating to the period ad 1500–1850 contained in the Dutch Relational Archaeobotanical Database were analysed. First, edible plant taxa were distinguished from medicinal plants and potentially edible weeds. Then, seeds and fruits were distinguished from pollen. Finally, the remains were quantified to form an overview of the plant taxa consumed per urban settlement and, from there, to provide insight into regional and temporal changes in plant food availability and preferences. The combined archaeobotanical dataset, consisting of cesspit material from 51 cities, comprised 97 edible plant taxa. Surprisingly, 20 of these taxa are consistently present in 50–100% of all settlements in the 350 years under study. Based on the archaeobotanical finds from the cesspits, we conclude that the overall plant food consumption of Early Modern Dutch urban inhabitants does not seem to have changed very much over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-565
Number of pages13
JournalVegetation History and Archaeobotany
Issue number5
Early online date1-Jan-2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2020


  • Archaeobotany, Cesspit, Food consumption, Early modern period, The Netherlands, Northern Low Countries, POLLEN MORPHOLOGY, MEDIEVAL, 16TH-CENTURY, ASSEMBLAGES, LATRINES, REMAINS, GERMANY, TIMES, 15TH, AD

ID: 110456698