831115 History of agriculture and the oldest crop plants of Europe

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Kohler-Schneider, Marianne
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


The lecture provides insight into the history of our oldest crop plants with regard to the origins and spread of agriculture over Europe. Landuse and subsistence economy of agrarian societies from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages are discussed with special emphasis on their contribution to the development of European cultural landscapes and ecosystems. Archaeological evidence of settlement structure and agricultural practices (tillage, manuring, harvesting and storage methods) are presented and combined with archaeobotanical and palaeoecological evidence resulting in the reconstruction of prehistoric and historic agrarian culture and environment.

Previous knowledge expected


Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

The lecture highlights the development of the agrarian way of life and the evolution of cultural landscapes and agroecosystems. It provides the necessary baseline for a better understanding of our present situation.

Learning outcomes: In the course of the lecture students will acquire a broad knowledge on the history of central European cultivated plants, on the origins and spread of agriculture and on the development of cultural landscapes. Eventually, they will be able to identify the most important cultivated plants and to describe their properties. They will be able to provide an overview on the historical evolution of domesticates and on the spread of agriculture in Europe. They will also be able to outline the ecological, technological and societal conditions under which the evolutionary processes took place and they will have acquired a deeper understanding for the agrarian basis of our culture and for patterns and processes in cultural landscapes. This will enable them to link present-day phenomena in agro-ecology, agro-economy and agro-sociology to their historical contexts and to analyse and understand them in a wider framework. As future agroscientists and landscape planners this will provide them with a solid basis for the acquisition of new knowledge in their respective fields and for the search of creative solutions to modern problems and challenges. The confrontation with archaeobotany and its multidisciplinary approaches to the reconstruction of past agrarian societies will raise awareness for the advantages of trans-disciplinary work.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.