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According to a new study, Roman Herculaneum men and women had different diets

Archaeologists examined the skeletal debris. Credit: Dr Luciano Fattore

Researchers led by the BioArCh team at the University of York have developed a new approach to analyze the amino acids that make up proteins from the 17 adult skeletons found in the aftermath of the 79 AD Vesuvius eruption.


By measuring the carbon and nitrogen isotopes of bone amino acid, Researchers have been able to reconstruct the diets of people who lived at the same time in much more detail than previously thought possible.

Professor Oliver Craig, senior author and director of BioArCH in the Faculty of Archeology, said: It hints at different access to food products throughout Roman society, but rarely provides direct or quantitative information.

“We found that there was a significant difference in the consumption ratio of seafood and terrestrial foods. male And women mean that access to food was gender-specific. ”

A total of 340 people have been excavated from nine adjacent Fornishi (stone vaults) running parallel to the Herculaneum coast near Pompeii. Pyroclastic flow..

Researchers said that gender differences within the group could be more accurately quantified, with men consuming an average of about 50 percent more dietary protein from seafood than women.

Men also got a slightly higher percentage of protein from grains than women of the same age, but women got more protein from animal foods and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

First author, Ph.D. Archeology student Silvia Soncin said: Saltwater fish In Herculaneum, and more broadly in mainland Italy.

“Men are more likely to engage directly in fishing and maritime activities, generally occupy a more privileged position in society, are freed from slavery from an early age, and have better access to expensive goods such as fresh fish. bottom.

Using their new approach, researchers were able to more accurately quantify ancient diets, so they could be compared to recent nutritional records. The team suggests that fish and seafood made an overall significant contribution to the Herculaneum diet compared to the average modern Mediterranean diet.The latter is increasingly dominated Products for animals.. Meanwhile, similar proportions of grain were consumed between ancient and modern times.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the “Museodelle Civiltà” in Rome and the Archaeological Parks of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The paper “Reconstruction of a high-resolution diet of victims of the 79 AD Vesbio volcanic eruption at Herculaneum by compound-specific isotope analysis” Science Advances..


Pompeii: Ancient ruins help scientists learn what happens to bodies captured in volcanic eruptions


For more information:
Reconstruction of a high-resolution diet of victims of the 79 AD Vesbio volcanic eruption at Herculaneum by compound-specific isotope analysis, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abg5791

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University of York

Quote: According to a new study, Roman Herculaneum men and women had different diets (August 25, 2021). Obtained from August 25, 2021 https://phys.org/news/2021-08-men-women-roman-herculaneum-diets.html

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According to a new study, Roman Herculaneum men and women had different diets

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