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Handbook of Plant Palaeoecology (2nd edition 2021)

Second revised edition

R.T.J. Cappers & R. Neef

Series: Groningen Archaeological Studies 19

ISBN-13: 9789493194267

Publication year: 2021

Publication type: Book

Pages: 496

Cover: Hardcover

Format: 170 x 240 mm portrait; 1500 g; full colour

Price excl. VAT: 67.50

Price incl. VAT: 73.58

This handbook is a completely revised version of the first edition, which was published in 2012.

Plant palaeoecologists use data from plant fossils and plant subfossils to reconstruct ecosystems and food economies of the past. This book deals with the study of subfossil plant material retrieved from archaeological excavations and cores dated to the Late Glacial and the Holocene.

One of the main objectives of this book is to describe the processes that underlie the formation of the archaeobotanical archive and the ultimate composition of the archaeobotanical record - being the data that are sampled and identified from this immense archive. Our understanding of these processes benefits from a knowledge of plant ecology and traditional agricultural practices and food processing. This handbook summarizes the basic ecological principles that relate to the reconstruction of former vegetation and of the agricultural practices in particular.

This handbook is a completely revised version of the first edition, which was published in 2012. An important adaptation relates to new developments in the research on diaspores (seeds and fruits). This mainly concerns morphology, taxonomy, and ecology. We reduced the treatment of research on pollen somewhat, and we now present it in an equivalent manner to the other research disciplines. We have extended the cereals with millets, a variable group of grains that play an important role in the agricultural development of both Eurasia and northern Africa. The taxonomy is largely in line with new insights based on combined morphological and genetic research, as published by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group.

The findings of our ethno-archaeobotanical fieldwork have been extensively documented in the Digital atlas of traditional agricultural practices and food processing (Cappers et al., 2016) and the Digital atlas of traditional food made from cereals and milk (Cappers 2018). We have incorporated part of this information in a condensed format in this version of the handbook, including the typologies of fuel, harvesting implements, ovens, and traditional food. The website of the Digital Plant Atlas project ( offers the opportunity to examine photographs of plant parts and of processes related to agricultural practices and food processing in more detail, using extensive search tools.

Extra information

See here for sample pages.

See here for more information about the Groningen Archaeological Studies.