Conclusion

The functional analysis of weed species will fulfill two prerequisites for successful archaeobotanical application of modern weed ecology to identify ancient husbandry practice:

  1. it allows 'translation' from species characterising husbandry regimes into functional attributes applicable to a different group of species;
  2. understanding the ecological significance of each attribute enables us to identify which aspect of husbandry is indicated by the weeds (in contrast to approaches based on phytosociology or index numbers, which concentrate on where a species is found rather than why it is there).

Armed with a method for identifying individual husbandry practices, it is now possible to reassemble these individual elements in a reconstruction of husbandry regimes, some of which may be extinct.