„Ancient Roman diet and the excavation of a sewer at Herculaneum“

16. Mai 2019 19:00

Prof. Mark Robinson

During the DAI study of the House of the Postumii at Pompeii, it proved possible to obtain a sample from a latrine. This showed the potential such material had for the reconstruction of Roman diet. The opportunity subsequently arose to investigate the contents of a sewer at Herculaneum with a team from Oxford University for the Herculaneum Conservation Project. The sewer ran beneath a block of shops and apartments which had been buried by the great eruption of AD 79. The food remains found were from two sources, items which had passed through the human digestive tract and kitchen waste which had been discarded into the latrine shafts. They showed that even the poorer inhabitants of the town enjoyed a highly varied and nutritious diet. The talk will conclude with some general comments about German-British collaboration on archaeological fieldwork.

Mark Robinson recently retired as Professor of Environmental Archaeology at the University of Oxford but remains Dean of St Cross College, one of the colleges of the University. He is a biologist based in the University Museum of Natural History who has had a career combining archaeological and biological research. His research has included analysing plant, insect and molluscan remains from ancient deposits to show the environmental changes brought about by the first farmers in Britain and the gradual clearance of woodland from the landscape. He was also the archaeologist on a major study of the genetics of the established population of the British Isles which, amongst other aspects, showed the major contribution made by Anglo-Saxon migrants from North-West Germany to the population of Southern, Eastern and Central England.

For the past 20 years, he has worked with the Deutschen Archäologischen Institut on excavations in and around Pompeii including a Roman garden and a vineyard. Some of these results will be the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He is currently collaborating with the Freie Universität Berlin on their project on bathing culture and the use of urban space at Pompeii.

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