Oct. 27, 2019

University of Bradford research finds link between diet and mortality of Roman Britons

Researchers at the University of Bradford have found a link between the diet and the mortality rates of Roman Britons by examining their bones.

The researchers examined the bone collagen of over 600 Roman Britons from archaeological sites throughout England using a new method of analysis, which looks at stable isotope data, which is the ratios of particular chemicals in human tissue. From this research they found indications that the Roman Britons could have suffered long-term nutritional stress such as food deprivation or starvation. 

Dr Beaumont from the University of Bradford explains, “Not all people in Roman Britain were high-status; there was considerable enslavement too and we know slaves were fed a restricted diet.  Our research shows that combining the carbon and nitrogen isotope data with other information such as mortality risk is crucial to an accurate understanding of archaeological dietary studies, and it may be useful to look at existing research with fresh eyes.”

The researchers – who also came from institutions including the Museum of London, Durham University and the University of South Carolina – also found that the Roman Briton men apparently enjoyed a higher status diet than the women.  

The paper 'A new method for investigating the relationship between diet and mortality: hazard analysis using dietary isotopes’ has been published in Annals of Human Biology.

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Content added on 27th October 2019. 

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