Aquileia, the most ancient system for hemp maceration discovered
Researchers found the pools used by the Romans for hemp maceration in the former land of Sandrigo in Aquileia. This is the first system of the Roman period known so far. The discovery was made by a group of archaeologists of the Ca’ Foscari University, during a stratigraphic archaeological excavation that has been carried out by the University of Venice since 2010.
“These are the first Roman archaeological findings of facilities related to the cycle of cultivation and processing of hemp (Cannabis sativa), resulting from a complex project of palynological analyses within a larger study aimed at the reconstruction of the ancient vegetable landscape”, said Daniela Cottica, Director of the campaign and professor at the Department of Humanities.
The pools are elongated and shallow, circumscribed by parapets made of clay, sand and pebbles with thin layers of opus signum coating with waterproofing function.
“Italy has a long tradition in the cultivation of hemp and has been one of the most important producers of hemp globally”, said Gabriella Buffa, Professor of Vegetable Biology at Ca’ Foscari.
Hemp is a highly ecological crop, being the cultivation techniques needed very simple and its products multi-functional and sustainable. Ancient Romans had already discovered its usefulness and appreciated it for making lines, ropes, mats and nets.
The researchers identified the use of these facilities by means of archeopalynology, which studies pollens, spores and sporomorphs embedded in archaeological or geological layers: this analysis shows the constant and diffused presence of Cannabis sativa in the pools and traces of the poles fixed vertically in the ground to keep hemp under water for maceration.