The Routledge Handbook of Diet and Nutrition in the Roman World  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Diet and Nutrition in the Roman World

ISBN 9781032094564
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
380 Pages

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Book Description

The Routledge Handbook of Diet and Nutrition in the Roman World presents a comprehensive overview of the sources, issues and methodologies involved in the study of the Roman diet. The focus of the book is on the Mediterranean heartland from the second century BC to the third and fourth centuries AD.

Life is impossible without food, but what people eat is not determined by biology alone, and this makes it a vital subject of social and historical study. The Handbook takes a multidisciplinary approach in which all kinds of sources and disciplines are combined to study the diet and nutrition of men, women and children in city and countryside in the Roman world. The chapters in this book are structured in five parts. Part I introduces the reader to the wide range of textual, material and bioarchaeological evidence concerning food and nutrition. Part II offers an overview of various kinds of food and drink, including cereals, pulses, olive oil, meat and fish, and the social setting of their consumption. Part III goes beyond the perspective of the Roman adult male by concentrating on women and children, on the cultures of Roman Egypt and Central Europe, as well as the Jews in Palestine and the impact of Christianity. Part IV provides a forum to three scholars to offer their thoughts on what physical anthropology contributes to our understanding of health, diet and (mal)nutrition. The final section puts food supply and its failure in the context of community and empire.

Table of Contents


List of Figures and Tables

Note on Contributors

  1. Introduction
  2. Paul Erdkamp and Claire Holleran

    Section 1: Evidence and Methodology

  3. Textual Evidence: Roman Reflections of Realities
  4. Kim Beerden

  5. Visual Evidence
  6. Shana O’Connell

  7. Material Evidence on Diet, Cooking and Techniques
  8. L. M. Banducci

  9. Investigating Roman Diet through Archaeobotanical Evidence
  10. Alexandra Livarda

  11. The Contribution of Zooarchaeology
  12. Paul Halstead

  13. The Bioarchaeology of Roman Diet
  14. Chryssi Bourbou

    Section 2: Food and Drink

  15. Roman Meals in their Domestic and Wider Settings
  16. John Donahue

  17. Cereals and Bread
  18. F. B. J. Heinrich

  19. Pulses
  20. A. M. Hansen and F. B. J. Heinrich

  21. Olives and Olive Oil
  22. Erica Rowan

  23. Wine and other Beverages
  24. Wim Broekaert

  25. Meat and other Animal Products
  26. Michael MacKinnon

  27. Fish and Seafood
  28. Annalisa Marzano

    Section 3: Peoples and Identities

  29. Women, Children and Food
  30. Christian Laes

  31. Central and Northern Europe
  32. Tünde Kaszab-Olschewski

  33. Jews in Palestine
  34. David Kraemer

  35. Egypt
  36. Willy Clarysse

  37. The Impact of Christianity on Diet, Health, and Nutrition in Late Antiquity
  38. Emmanuelle Raga

    Section 4: A Forum on Energy, Malnutrition, and Stature

  39. Using Skeletal Remains as a Proxy for Roman Lifestyles: the Potential and Problems with Osteological Reconstructions of Health, Diet, and Stature in Imperial Rome
  40. Kristina Killgrove

  41. Comparative Perspectives on Nutrition and Social Inequality in the Roman World
  42. Geoffrey Kron

  43. Skeletons in the Cupboard: Femurs and Food Regimes in the Roman World
  44. Miko Flohr

    Section 5: Food on the Market and in Politics

  45. Market Regulation and Intervention in the Urban Food Supply
  46. Claire Holleran

  47. Famine and Hunger in the Roman World

Paul Erdkamp



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Paul Erdkamp is Professor of Ancient History at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. His research interests focus on the demography and economy of the Roman world, including living standards and food supply. In addition he has published on Republican historiography and Roman warfare. He is author of Hunger and the Sword. Warfare and Food Supply in Roman Republican Wars (1998) and The Grain Market in the Roman Empire (2005) and edited A Companion to the Roman Army (2007), The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rome (2013) and, with Koen Verboven and Arjan Zuiderhoek, Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World (2015).

Claire Holleran is Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research interests focus on Roman social and economic history, particularly the city of Rome, urban economies, the retail trade and demography. She is the author of Shopping in Ancient Rome: The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate (2012), and co-editor with April Pudsey of Demography and the Greco-Roman World (2011), and with Amanda Claridge of A Companion to the City of Rome (2018).