The Irish Iron Age diet has been discovered in the south-east

16 Aug 2016132 Shares

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Archaeologists have discovered the diet of Iron Age inhabitants of south-east Ireland, with cattle, pigs, barley and wheat dominant.

A team from University College Cork (UCC) has trawled through archaeological excavations carried out in the south-east region of Ireland over the past decade or so.

The findings – which included animal bones and seeds – reveal what food was grown, farmed and cooked in Ireland during the Iron Age, more than two millennia ago.

Recovered from road and gas pipeline excavations, the remains provide direct evidence of farming and diet from as far back as 2,700 years ago, according to Dr Katharina Becker, an archaeology lecturer at UCC.

Iron Age diet

“Cattle and pigs provided dairy and meat, barley was a staple, and we also have evidence of a variety of wheats, including spelt, emmer and naked wheat,” she said.

“We have identified evidence of settlement, as well as arable and pastoral agriculture, indicating that communities were thriving in the south-east of Ireland.”

By checking pollen records against a lake discovery that stretches back more than 10,000 years, the team was able to date sequences and compare them against the archaeological finds.

The results are being put into tangible action now, with recipes using these supplies constructed to replicate Iron Age diets.

UCC archaeology lecturers Dr Ben Gearey and Dr Katharina Becker with Declan Ryan of Arbutus Bread. Image via Tomás Tyner, UCC

UCC archaeology lecturers Dr Ben Gearey and Dr Katharina Becker with Declan Ryan of Arbutus Bread. Image via Tomás Tyner, UCC

“We want to give the public the opportunity to see for themselves how archaeologists and environmental specialists connect and make sense of the minute pieces of evidence found on archaeological sites to reconstruct the stories of people’s lives,” added Dr Becker.

UCC specialists teamed up with colleagues from Bradford University, Warwick University, University College Dublin and Transport Infrastructure Ireland for the project.

Main grain image via Shutterstock

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Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com