Monday, 9 February 2009
Understanding human history is archaeologists’ food and drink
The desire to improve our health has made food and diet a modern obsession but discovering what our ancestors ate and how they prepared food can reveal remarkable details about the way they lived.
Archaeologists Dr Allan Hall and Dr Oliver Craig will offer an insight into this fascinating area in two public lectures at the University of York. The lectures are the first in a new series at the University entitled Are You What You Eat? The Science of Food.
Dr Hall will discuss how archaeologists approach the difficult task of finding evidence of what our ancestors ate, looking in particular at what has been discovered about the foods consumed in Roman, Viking and Medieval York.
The lecture by Dr Craig will examine how discarded plant and animal remains, the contents of preserved stomachs and even fossilised faeces can help answer fundamental questions such as ‘when did we start growing, raising and cooking foods?’, ‘how did eating together become such a common occurrence for us?’ and ‘how has our diet effected our health?’.
Dr Craig said: "‘You are what you eat’ is a well known truism, but what we are and what we eat have both undergone major transformations during the course of human evolution and more recent human history.
"Molecular analysis of fragments of bone, pottery and even soils are now starting to reveal surprisingly rich accounts of what was eaten thousands of years ago."
Lectures later in the Are You What You Eat? The Science of Food series will look at obesity, breastfeeding and eating and exercise in childhood.
The University of York’s public lectures are open to all and admission is free.