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Friday, June 17, 2011

Archaeology News: Roman Diet Exposed in Sewer Excavations


JUNE 17, 2011--Archaeologists working in a system of connected sewers and drains under the ancient town of Herculaneum in the Bay of Naples area of Italy have analyzed the human excrement found there and discovered the diet of ordinary Romans included a lot of vegetables and fruits, especially figs, and protein sources such as sea urchins and dormice.

The archaeologists working on the Herculaneum Conservation Project found the drains by accident while searching for a way to prevent the site from being flooded during heavy rain periods. The system contains the largest deposit of organic matter dating from Roman times ever found. Director of the project, Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, said the discovery was the largest find of Roman waste, but had it been found the past it would have been thrown away because archaeologists did not have the technology available today to analyze it.

Read More: Ancient sewer excavation sheds light on the Roman diet @ PhysOrg

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Dr. Brian Redmond, curator of archaeology, discusses working at the Burrell Orchard site earlier this summer. The Archaeology in Action field school is open to adult museum members. For more information or to volunteer, visit www.cmnh.org/ArchaeologyinAction.

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