The archaeology of food

Authored by: Katherine M. Moore

Routledge International Handbook of Food Studies

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782647
eBook ISBN: 9780203819227
Adobe ISBN: 9781136741661


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The archaeology of food combines laboratory methods to recover ancient foods, ancient food use, and ancient cuisine. Not all foods are likely to leave archaeological remains: animal bones are common and indicate the use of meat, but plant remains are unlikely to be found by archaeologists unless they have been accidentally charred. The study of cooking and serving has been approached through containers made of ceramic, stone, and wood. Interest in cooking equipment has expanded recently as techniques have been developed recently that recover faint residues of fats and other constituents of food from the insides of pots. Soil samples have yielded individual grains of food starch, greatly expanding our knowledge of the use of tubers, fruits, and grains. Linking these finds with artifacts and evidence from iconography, history, and human skeletal remains allows archaeologists to assess the connection between ancient food, ancient economies, and ancient social organization.

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