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Evidence for Ancient Roman Diets Uncovered with ISOLUTE® NH2

30 October 2018

Dr. Simon Hammann is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Bristol. By combining chemistry with archeological research, he is able to look back in time and has produced the first direct chemical evidence for dietary cereal processing among Romans.


"In our research we developed a new method to trace the dietary use of cereals based on Organic Residue analysis. This approach is based on the requisite that lipids and other constituents are absorbed into the ceramic matrix during food preparation, and can potentially be preserved there for millennia. This enables archaeologists to reconstruct past human diets," writes Dr. Hammann. 

Archaeological samples from the Roman forts at Vindolanda were analyzed for alkylresorcinols and plant sterols. The alkylresorcinols were isolated from more abundant concomitant lipids using an ISOLUTE® NH2 SPE cartridge. This enrichment step allowed detection of tiny traces of alkylresorcinols (<1ng/g) together with plant sterols in two of the ten samples, providing for the first time evidence for the dietary use of cereals at this site.

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Tracing an Ancient Diet

Part No: PPS484 Published: 2018 0.21 MB Format: pdf