3 years ago

Gallo-Roman Nîmes (southern France): A case study on firewood supplies for urban and proto-urban centers (1st B.C. – 3rd A.D.)

Information on the exploitation of firewood in proto-urban/urban contexts is provided by the study of archaeological charcoal from the site of Jean-Jaurès (Nîmes, Southern France). The ubiquity and abundance of Erica (mostly if not exclusively Erica arborea) in the blacksmith's quarter raises the question to why these plants were such an important source of fuel for the forges. Iron smelting traditionally used charcoal instead of dry wood and heather does not seem the most fitting species to be transformed into charcoal. At Jean-Jaurès the state of conservation of charcoal made it impossible to recognize whether wood had been used as such or first transformed into charcoal. The recurrent use of Erica is also recorded in the incinerations excavated outside the defensive wall. This suggests a real local abundance of these plants, which contrasts with their present-day discretion. The identification of Celtis australis in one of the two wells excavated in the residential area is particularly worth mentioning, as this supposedly native species seems conspicuously absent from charcoal diagrams.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1040618216303196

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