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The Roman sailors’ food

Dry fruits for the long sea crossings

The exhibition of archaeological finds from the Roman harbour of Naples (Photo courtesy of Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli).
A detailed study of the macroscopic plant remains recovered on the palaeo-seafloors of Neapolis harbour, carried out by our team and spanning almost 700 years between the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD, revealed important new insight about the diet habits of the sailors. Since the remains may have realistically been food left over from crew meals, huge presence of dry fruit such as walnut (Juglans regia), hazelnut (Corylus avellana) and chestnut (Castanea sativa) on the palaeo sea beds suggested that seafarers had extensive access to them. Considering the imperishable nature of these dry fruits, it is very probable that all these nuts could be part of the food stocks of the galleys.

Also peaches (Prunus persica), although are a recent introduction in Italy, were regularly found in port areas, such as Pisae and Neapolis, and thus seems had become part of the feeding habit even in low social classes such as the sailors.


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