2016 A Little Slice of Heaven
Transcript 2016 A Little Slice of Heaven
LITTLE SLICE OF HEAVEN
Bria Milligan and Zara Smith
Food was of great importance in both Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Sources suggest that dinner would commence at 4 o'clock and was the main
meal of the day.
In wealthier households, dinner consisted of three courses: an entrée, a main
meal, and dessert.
Although some food items were pre-prepared and bought outside of the
home, most food, such as fish, vegetables, poultry, eggs, and other fresh
produce were prepared inside the home.
Mosaic from the House of the Faun
Garum was used as a flavouring sauce on a variety of food, whilst wine was
a popular beverage.
Sources include several carbonized food items found in various locations
throughout the two cities, preserved during the eruption.
The kitchen at the House of The Vetti displays a typical kitchen, complete
with cooking utensils.
Still-life frescoes from the House of the Deer
CULTURE OF FOOD
The Romans ate three times a day: at lentaculum (breakfast), prandium (lunch), and
cena (dinner). The first meal of the day generally consisted of breads, fruit, and
cheese. Prandium was usually made up of meats, eggs, vegetables, and bread.
Cena, eaten at dusk, could be a variety of food items, usually ending with a sweet
item such as a piece of fruit.
The food culture of Pompeii and Herculaneum was influenced by the trade
relations with Egypt and countries in the Mediterranean. Archaeologists noted that
some types of seashells found in the sewers of Herculaneum came from the town's
own beach, but grain was likely imported from Egypt, while pepper is considered
to come from India. A variety of exotic and imported food items have been found,
such as flamingos, and spices that have been thought to come from Indonesia, as
well as minimal cuts of more expensive meat and salted fish from Spain.
“How part of the animal, butchered, came to be a kitchen scrap in a seemingly
standard Pompeian restaurant not only speaks to long-distance trade in exotic
and wild animals, but also something of the richness, variety and range of a nonelite diet.” says Steven Ellis, a University of Cincinnati professor of Classics.
Graffiti from the wall of the
triclinium in the House of Moralist
depicts a family attending a meal.
The volcanic soil of the Campanian region created fertile lands, rich with several types of crops. This
included: cabbages, onions, grapes, wheat and olives.
Food staples for the population consisted of bread, fish, beans, and vegetables as these ingredients
were produced locally and could be easily accessed within or around city walls.
Vineyards thrived in the rich soils. The types of wine made and sold around the Campanian region
can be identified by remains of wine bottles, called amphorea. Amphorea were often labelled to
describe their contents and their origin.
Bacchaus and Vesuvius
The frescoe of Bacchaus and Mt. Vesuvius, found in Pompeii, illustrates the importance of wine to the
two Roman towns.
The variety of meat, fruit, and vegetables give evidence to the theory of citizens in Pompeii and
Herculaneum having healthy and nutritious diets.
Carbonized remains of several bread loafs show what an important staple bread was to the two
towns. Excavated remains of the Bakery of Modestus in Pompeii show 81 carbonized loafs that were
baking during the time of the eruption.
EVIDENCE & SOURCES FOR FOOD
An Oxford University archaeological team has developed a major research program
to investigate aspects of environmental archaeology in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
One of the topics being researched is Dietary Remains from Latrine Pits and Sewers
Latrines. These were usually located in kitchens and were used for the disposal of both
human and food waste. The pits and sewers contained a great amount of dietary
items, including calcium-phosphate mineralised seeds, small bones and marine shell
Food remains from a latrine pit
Professor Wilhelmina Jashekski, an archaeologist specialising in the gardens of
Pompeii, discovered that many houses had spaces for the cultivation of figs, olives,
cherries and other fruits and vegetables. Evidence for viticulture (grape growing)
within Pompeii, and, hence, for the drinking of wine, came from her discovery of a
vineyard within the walls - the Inn of Euxinus
Artworks including frescoes and mosaics that feature foods such as fruit, fish, poultry,
and game also provide information about diet at Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Inn of Euxinus