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Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples [Paperback]

Don R. Brothwell , Patricia Brothwell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Price: 13.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

18 Dec 1997

A world-wide survey of the eating and drinking habits of early peoples, Don and Patricia Brothwell's Food in Antiquity covers a broad geographical range, from the early populations of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas to the more familiar Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman worlds. From meat, insects, vegetables, and fruits to cooking oils and beverages, each source of sustenance is described in terms of who consumed it, how it was prepared, and how it spread from its region of origin.

The Brothwells' treatment is engaging and the information they provide fascinating. We learn, for example, that the vinegar carried by Roman foot soldiers on long marches was mixed with water to serve as a refreshing drink and that fungi provided a reliable source of diet for peoples from Europe, Australia, Japan, and China. The authors consider such questions as whether St. John ate carob or actual locusts in his desert hermitage and whether ancient farmers may have rid their crops of troublesome pests by capturing and eating them. They discuss cannibalism, food taboos, and the radical changes that took place with the introduction of the domestication of animals. The story they unfold is a compelling one that sheds much light on the intricate detective work, the problems and rewards, of biological research in archeology.



Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; New Ed edition (18 Dec 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801857406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801857409
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 16.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,409,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Excellently written, arranged and signposted... The authors are to be congratulated on having included so much in so small a space.

(Classical Review)

[This] cannot have been an easy book to write, and it is hardly surprising that there is no other quite like it: the collection and organization of material, the drawing together of evidence disparate in content and origin, the reduction of complex data to brief and intelligible statements, must all have been daunting tasks and one can only admire the authors' courage in attempting them and their skill in producing something which is, in spite of it all, both interesting and useful.

(Journal of Roman Studies)

Very readable... This revised edition will be a useful addition to any Near Eastern bookshelf.

(Rachel S. Hallote Journal of Near Eastern Studies)

About the Author

Don R. Brothwell is an archeologist and author of The Bog Man and the Archeology of People. He teaches at the University of York. Patricia Brothwell is a writer and researcher.


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THIS BOOK is an attempt to survey briefly but on a world-wide scale, the diets of earlier peoples. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of vitamins 5 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A splendid and very readable survey of the diets of humankind through most og history and most of geograpny through the ages.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Primarily Archaeological. 29 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book thinking that it would be a nice survey-style introduction into the various foods and dishes of the ancient world--especially the Classical Mediterranean, given the mosaic on the cover. However, this reads far more like an archaeological treatise recording processes of animal and plant domestication since the Neolithic. With a plethora of taxonomic and anatomical information that's of little use to the non-specialist, the book nevertheless manages to intrigue on occasion, with some tidbits; especially fascinating are the chapters on insects as food and on beverages. Most of the work focuses on the classical and near-eastern civilizations, but occasional mention is made of the mesoamerican cultures as well. Worth reading, but by no means a comprehensive work on early diets.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every food writer should have a copy 2 Oct 2006
By Lynn Hoffman, author:Radiation Days: A Comedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book bills itself as ' a world-wide

survey of the eating and drirking habits

of early peoples'. It's actually a bit

more restricted than that-more of a survey

of what is known archaeologically about

food and drink in pre-modern times.

The book has two great uses. First, for

the eternally curious food-lover, it's a

wonderful browse. The dryly humorous section

on the food value of insects,for example,

is enough of a delight to be worth reading

aloud. The first page of the section on

drinks has the droll observation "It is

sobering to consider that the neglected jar

of fruit juice. . . . .set man along the

road to alcoholism and the illicit still."

The section on cannibalism is perhaps worth

the price of the whole volume.

The second use of this book is as a reference

for the writer and student. Since things

are their history, there's scarcely any

treatment of food, drink or cooking that

would not benefit from at least a reference

to their origins. Organized by type of

foodstuff, this book may be all anyone needs

to know. For those who wish to go further,

there are useful notes and a generous bib-

liography.

By focussing on material culture and archae

ology, the book avoids the trickier

questions of ancient diet as a whole.

What did early man eat? Well, this book gives

some pieces of an answer, but certainly

not a comprehensive picture. As so often

the case with academic writing, it's good

to be familiar with the subjects at hand

so as to avoid being caught up in in

accuracies-honey, for example, does not

ferment in spite of the authors' suggestion.

An excellent source and a jolly diversion,

this is a valuable addition to the scholarly

cook's library.

Lynn Hoffman, author of The New Short Course in Wine and the forthcoming novel bang-BANG from Kunati Press.
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