Researchers from the University of the Basque Country found evidence that fields within the medieval settlement of Zaballa were once intensely used to grow grape vines.
“Archaeo-botanical studies of seed remains found in the excavations and pollen studies have provided material evidence of the existence of vine cultivation in a relatively early period like the 10th century,” study author Juan Antonio Quirós-Castillo said in a statement.
The researchers’ examination of the fields, which are still visible in the landscape, suggests they were more agriculturally suited to growing vines, rather than cereal crops, he added. The archaeologists also unearthed metal tools that were likely used to maintain the ancient vineyards.
The village of Zaballa was abandoned in the 15th century, largely after local lords operating under a newly created rent-seeking system drove out many of the town’s settlers. Zaballa is one of more than 300 deserted settlements collectively known as Araba-Alava. Today, archaeologists from the University of the Basque Country are trying to reconstruct the region’s rural heritage by combing the remains of these deserted settlements.