Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples

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From soup to nuts—or rather, from vinegar to locusts.

A world-wide survey of the eating and drinking habits of early peoples, Don and Patricia Brothwell's Food in Antiquity covers a broad geographical range, from the early populations of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas to the more familiar Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman worlds. From meat, insects, vegetables, and fruits to cooking oils and beverages, each source of sustenance is described in terms of who consumed it, how it was prepared, and how it spread from its region of origin.

The Brothwells' treatment is engaging and the information they provide fascinating. We learn, for example, that the vinegar carried by Roman foot soldiers on long marches was mixed with water to serve as a refreshing drink and that fungi provided a reliable source of diet for peoples from Europe, Australia, Japan, and China. The authors consider such questions as whether St. John ate carob or actual locusts in his desert hermitage and whether ancient farmers may have rid their crops of troublesome pests by capturing and eating them. They discuss cannibalism, food taboos, and the radical changes that took place with the introduction of the domestication of animals. The story they unfold is a compelling one that sheds much light on the intricate detective work, the problems and rewards, of biological research in archeology.

 

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Contents

THE VEGETABLES
105
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 7
5
INTRODUCTION 13
13
THE VERTEBRATES 26
26
THE INVERTEBRATES 59
59
SUGARS 73
73
FUNGI 85
85
CEREAL CROPS 94
94
THE VEGETABLES 105
105
FRUIT AND NUTS 130
130
OLIVES OILS HERBS
153
DRINKS 164
164
DIET AND DISEASE 175
175
AFTERWORD 193
193
BIBLIOGRAPHY 225
225
THE PLATES 233
265

FRUIT AND NUTS 130
130
Olives OILS HERBS
153
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 273
273
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Don R. Brothwell is an archeologist and author of The Bog Man and the Archeology of People. He teaches at the University of York. Patricia Brothwell is a writer and researcher.

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