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AGRUMED: Archaeology and history of citrus fruit in the Mediterranean

Véronique Zech-Matterne
Girolamo Fiorentino


Massimo Osanna

Texte intégral

1This volume presents the results of the international workshop “The History and Archaeology of Citrus fruits in the Mediterranean: Introductions, diversifications, uses”, which was hosted at Pompeii on the 5th December 2014, and organised by the University of Salento, CNRS/MNHN (National Museum of Natural History) and INRAP (National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research, France), in collaboration with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

2The Conference, which marked the conclusion of the International AGRUMED project (coordinated by Véronique Zech-Matterne and Girolamo Fiorentino), saw the participation of both Italian and international experts and researchers, who presented the latest research and studies on the introduction of citrus fruits to the Mediterranean, as well as their cultivation techniques, with particular attention devoted to the biological diversification processes of the various species and the influence which citrus fruits had on the development of ancient societies.

3The most recent discoveries show that citrus fruits were introduced to Italy in the pre-Roman age. Originally coming from the Far East and the Indian subcontinent, they were imported to Italy after the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean basin, and since then have been considered a central element of the local diet and biodiversity.

4Pompeii can be considered as one of the first centres of the Western Mediterranean where their cultivation can be ascertained.

5The intersection of iconographic data, represented by numerous frescoes depicting fruits, such as those of the Domus del Frutteto, and the discovery of carbonised fruit and kernel residues, or seeds and pollen grains, demonstrates the importance of the Italian species in the Roman period.

6The understanding of the Vesuvian landscape prior to AD 79, and therefore the acquisition of information on the natural aspects of the territory and the use of its natural resources, is one of the objectives which the Laboratory of Applied Research of the Park has focused on for many years, through specific studies on the Vesuvian ecosystem, enriched by comparisons with literary and iconographic sources.

7Today, a climatic room allows us to conserve more than 3000 finds, including a rich variety of archaeobotanic remains.

8The Laboratory has the ambitious but necessary objective of coordinating and supervising the field, for rendering research and Pompeian studies available to scientific community.

9Over the next few years, it will be faced with a new ambitious project: the Laboratory of Pompeii will become a physical space for the “musealisation” of exceptional finds, while simultaneously continuing to be a place of both research and the conservation of finds. The aim is to give a voice to the scientific richness and role of the chosen place, as a centre of studies for the ancient city. Implementation of the project will allow visitors to enjoy a visit to a museum of daily life at Pompeii, as well as its customs and habits and the world of flora and fauna which decorated the gardens and which painters portrayed in their works. The project will pursue the objectives of the School of Archaeology by displaying finds from the ancient world and offering educational suggestions of great interest to visitors of the site, within the new museum layout. The establishment of the “Giuseppe Fiorelli Museum-Laboratory” constituted a fundamental moment for reflection, which has led to defining proposals in line with the direction which the Archaeological Park of Pompeii as a whole is pursuing.

10The Laboratory, therefore, represents a significant element in the Pompeian scene. This applies as much to the potential that it can express in the scientific and conservational field, as to its location within the site, which renders it a focus of urban attraction. This approach will render the landscape of knowledge and research multiform over time, in addition to favouring opportunities of scientific comparison, the fruits of whose labour we may, with the aid of this volume, enjoy today.

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