By Andrew CurryAug. 25, 2021
Original article in sciencemag.org
Almost 2000 years ago, a volcanic eruption buried the seaside Roman town of Herculaneum in the same rush of hot ash and gas that decimated Pompeii. The catastrophe didn’t just preserve buildings and bones—it saved clues to the Roman diet. A new analysis of the bones of 17 victims reveals what these ancient villagers were eating, and in what proportions. Residents scarfed a lot of seafood and olive oil, confirming historians’ estimates that average Romans consumed 20 liters (more than 5 gallons) of the oil each year.
Previous studies have only given broad outlines, not the nitty-gritty details, of the ancient Roman diet, says Erica Rowan, an archaeobotanist at the…
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