It’s Time to Upend the Medieval Food Pyramid

We all know the image, from countess movies and Renaissance Faires, of medieval revelers feasting on seemingly endless amounts of game meats and gnawing on giant turkey drumsticks. Well, according to Sam Leggett, a researcher at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, this is likely pure fantasy:

…A new study that examined the dietary signatures contained in bones of more than 2,000 skeletons has cast doubt on this assumption, finding that most Anglo-Saxons ate a diet rich in cereals and vegetables and low in animal protein — no matter what their social status.

Archaeologists were able to glean this information by analyzing the presence of different isotopes, or variants, of the elements carbon and nitrogen in bone collagen. Bones preserve an isotopic record of the different types of food an individual consumed over time. The study mainly looked at ribs, which represent a period of 10 years before a person’s death.

“Basically, what I do is I get bones from skeletons, dissolve them in acid, make them squishy and work out what people ate,” said study author Sam Leggett…

Read the rest.


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