Dig in! Archaeologists serve up ancient menus for modern tables

Porridge, loaves and sauces Egyptians and Romans consumed have become today ’s cookbook crazeDuringa 1954 BBC documentary about Tollund Man, the mysterious body of a hanged man discovered in a peat bog in Denmark, the noted archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler ate a reconstruction of the 2,000-year-old ’s last meal. After tasting the porridge of barley, linseed and mustard seeds, he dabbed at his moustache and declared the mystery was solved: Tollund Man had killed himself rather than eat another spoonful.Food reconstruction has come a long way since then. Last week Seamus Blackley, a scientist more famous for creating the Xbox, baked a sourdough loaf using yeast cultured from scrapings off 4,500-year-old Egyptian pottery at his home in California. The results, said one of his collaborators, Dr Serena Love, an Egyptologist from the University of Queensland, were “tangy and delicious”. “I met Seamus for the first time today,” she said. “As soon as I walked in the door he gave me a plate of bread.” Blackleyextracted samples from inside the ceramic pores of a clay pot from the Peabody Museum at Harvard University three weeks ago. Most are being examined by the third member of the team, Richard Bowman, a molecular biologist, but Blackley kept one to turn it into yeast to make bread. “Food puts you in touch with the humanity of the past,” Love said. “That’s a tactile thing, something that’s visceral &ndash...
Source: Guardian Unlimited Science - Category: Science Authors: Tags: Archaeology Food Roman Britain World news Bread UK news Beer Microbiology Science Source Type: news

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