Published on January 22nd, 20140
What bizarre foods ate the rich residents of Pompeii?
The people in the ancient city ate a varied diet, but the richest city residents of Pompeii were eating giraffe meat, suggests new research.
Leakage remains discovered in Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by the volcano, revealed that people in the middle and lower classes ate cheap food, but healthy, while the richest citizens resorted to delicacies.
The new findings refute what is popularly believed, namely that members of the Roman elite ate delicacies while the poor starved.
“Traditional perspective that makes us imagine a mass of poor people looking through trash find any food or feed with a bowl of porridge should be replaced with a better perspective with a higher living standard, the least in respect of urban citizens of Pompeii”, says Steven Ellis, author of the new study and also a professor of classical studies at the University of Cincinnati.
Pompeii was a lively Roman city that was buried in ash after the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Ellis and his colleagues excavated approximately 20 stores near a port city, Portia Stabia, a very active place at that time. Latrines and sewers near shops revealed burnt food scraps from kitchens and human waste dating back as early as the fourth century BC, when Pompeii was still at an early stage of development.
Along with grains, the waste revealed that ordinary people of Pompeii ate a Mediterranean diet simple but quite varied, which included lentils, olives, nuts and fish, and sometimes even some salted meat.
Restaurants for a lofty audience could be identified by the fact that they serve a variety of delicacies.
“What we discovered a leak reveals a wide amount of material suggests a very clear socio-economic divide between the activities and consumption habits of each property, properties that could not otherwise be distinguished”, says Ellis.
For example, the drains of properties located in the most central area contained traces of imported foods such as shellfish, sea urchins and even a giraffe leg.
” It is believed that the only one giraffe bone ever discovered in archaeological excavations conducted in Italy since Roman times”, says Ellis. “How part of the animal, butchered, came to be a kitchen scrap in a normal restaurant in Pompeii reveal not only trade in wildlife and exotic conducted at great distances, but also the richness and variety of human diet outside the elite”, the scientist explain.
Also, researchers have found traces of exotic spices imported from very distant, like Indonesia.