Food and drink, and what it says about us

What did the Vikings eat for supper" How good were the grocers in Roman Pompeii" What was it like feasting with the Greeks in the second millennium BC" How can this tell us why we like TV dinners today"

Everything you have ever wanted to know about the archaeological history of food and drink will be showcased at The University of Nottingham this month. From prehistory to the Victorian age, a postgraduate conference, the very first of its kind, aims to highlight current and on-going research into the archaeology of food and drink.

Although the eating and drinking habits of the ancient world may appear at first to have been very different to ours this conference will illustrate the many similarities particularly in our cultural behaviour, agriculture, trade patterns, architecture and domestic contexts.

Researchers at the University say there is a lot that the study of food and drink in archaeology can tell us and it isn't just about what they ate in the ancient world. It is about how they ate, what they hunted and the production of food. It can also be used to date archaeological sites by carbon remains, pottery fragments and associated architecture. It indicates social behaviours such as feasting and religious acts such as sacrifice, and provides important evidence for how the consumption of food was an integral part of cultural and individual identity.

Sera Baker, a PhD student in Archaeology, is one of the organisers of the Food and Drink in Archaeology 2007 Conference. She says "Whilst the importance of nutrition for survival has long been recognised, increasing emphasis is being put on the cultural significance of the production, distribution and consumption of foodstuffs throughout all archaeological periods."

The ancient Near East, the Mediterranean, Europe and the British Isles will all come under the postgraduates' microscope even the household diet of the Willoughby family, former residents of Wollat

Contact: Sera Baker
University of Nottingham

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