OZR backup mandate: Food from Farm to Fork in the Ancient World. Determining nutritional and isotopic profiles of raw and processed plant-based foodstuffs from Greco Roman Egypt.

Project Details


It has long been held that one-sided and low-quality diets comprised of cereals and pulses with high levels of antinutrients and poor in micronutrients caused chronic malnutrition for the majority of ancient populations. Recently these views have been challenged as being anachronistic since the modern nutritional data on which they are based are from crops and practices modified by the 20th century Green Revolution. Moreover, current historical models neither take into account that humans do not eat the majority of their diet as unprocessed food and instead subject it to processing, nor that modern nutritional biochemistry suggests that more traditional forms of food processing may beneficially alter the nutritional profiles of foodstuffs.
The Food from Farm to Fork in the Ancient World project seeks to challenge the underlying assumptions of the current historical paradigm by for the first time producing empirical data on the nutritional qualities of ancient cereals and pulses by chemically analysing a unique collection of desiccated archaeobotanical remains from Greco-Roman Egypt. Furthermore it will experimentally recreate everyday processed plant-based foodstuffs using papyrological sources on food processing practices, and by measuring the nutritional and isotopic changes at each processing step. Together these data will allow the reconstruction of the concrete nutritional and isotopic values of the foodstuffs consumed in Greco-Roman Egypt with unprecedented precision.
Effective start/end date1/10/2130/09/22


  • Plant-based
  • archaeobotanical material

Flemish discipline codes

  • Archaeology of foods and diets
  • Ancient history
  • Experimental archaeology