Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Goodbye Horses, Hello Giraffes

We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the horse meat scandal breaking headlines and in remembrance, I thought we could give the horse a rest and focus on the latest discovered cuisine of Pompeii: giraffe.

Pompeii was a booming seaside metropolis on the coast of Italy with archaeological evidence dating as far back as the 6th century B.C. The population was estimated to be around 20,000 and the town was complete with a water system, amphitheatre, gymnasium and successful port. In 79 A.D. the town was buried under a 13 to 20 foot layer of ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the town virtually ceased to exist.

Objects that lay beneath the city have been well preserved because of the lack of air and moisture. New research is emerging on the diets of the non-elite section of the Roman city. A ten year excavation of Pompeian homes, shops, drains, latrines, and cesspits and the analysis of excrement and food waste shows that the lower classes of Pompeians ate grains, fruits, nuts, olives, lentils, fish, eggs, meat, shellfish, sea urchin, and butchered giraffe. Is that too on the Mediterranean Diet?

Along with evidence of exotic and imported spices in Pompeii from as far away as Indonesia, the evidence of the giraffe bone found (the only one ever recorded from an archaeological excavation in Roman Italy) reveals a thriving long distance trade.