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Dozens of thermopolia, or snack bars, have been found across Pompeii. Photograph: Massimo Ossana/Instagram

By/angela-giuffrida

Theguardian.com

Thermopolia used by poorer residents with few cooking facilities, archaeologists say

A well-preserved frescoed “fast food” counter is among the latest discoveries unearthed by archaeologists in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

The 150 or so thermopolia, or snack bars, dotted across the city were mostly used by the poorer residents, who rarely had cooking facilities in their home, to grab a snack or drink. Typical menus included coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils and spicy wine.

An image of the 2,000-year old relic, found in Regio V, a 21.8-hectare (54-acre) site to the north of the archaeological park, was shared on Instagram by Massimo Ossana, the site’s outgoing superintendent.

“A thermopolium has been brought back to light, with its beautiful frescoed counter,” he wrote.

Dozens of other thermopolia have been found throughout the entire archaeological park. Regio V, which is not yet open to the public, is the most intensive dig at the site since the 1960s.

Excavations so far have yielded dozens of discoveries. In February, archaeologists found a stunningly preserved fresco depicting the mythological hunter Narcissus enraptured by his own reflection in a pool of water. Human remains have also been found, including the skeletons of two women and three children found huddled together in a villa. The remains of a harnessed horse and saddle were also found in late December.

Pompeii was destroyed in AD79 by an eruption that killed more than 2,000 people. The ruins were discovered in the 16th century and the first excavations began in 1748. Pompeii is one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world.

 

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An ancient woman from Romania shows an edgeto-edge bite (left). A Bronze Age man from Austria had a slight overbite (right).

 

By Ann Gibbons

Original article:

Sciencemag.org

Don’t like the F-word? Blame farmers and soft food. When humans switched to processed foods after the spread of agriculture, they put less wear and tear on their teeth. That changed the growth of their jaws, giving adults the overbites normal in children. Within a few thousand years, those slight overbites made it easy for people in farming cultures to fire off sounds like “f” and “v,” opening a world of new words.

The newly favored consonants, known as labiodentals, helped spur the diversification of languages in Europe and Asia at least 4000 years ago; they led to such changes as the replacement of the Proto-Indo-European patēr to Old English faeder about 1500 years ago, according to linguist and senior author Balthasar Bickel at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. The paper shows “that a cultural shift can change our biology in such a way that it affects our language,” says evolutionary morphologist Noreen Von Cramon-Taubadel of the University at Buffalo, part of the State University of New York system, who was not part of the study.

Postdocs Damián Blasi and Steven Moran in Bickel’s lab set out to test an idea proposed by the late American linguist Charles Hockett. He noted in 1985 that the languages of hunter-gatherers lacked labiodentals, and conjectured that their diet was partly responsible: Chewing gritty, fibrous foods puts force on the growing jaw bone and wears down molars. In response, the lower jaw grows larger, and the molars erupt farther and drift forward on the protruding lower jaw, so that the upper and lower teeth align. That edge-to-edge bite makes it harder to push the upper jaw forward to touch the lower lip, which is required to pronounce labiodentals. But other linguists rejected the idea, and Blasi says he, Moran, and their colleagues “expected to prove Hockett wrong.”

First, the six researchers used computer modeling to show that with an overbite, producing labiodentals takes 29% less effort than with an edge-to-edge bite. Then, they scrutinized the world’s languages and found that hunter-gatherer languages have only about one-fourth as many labiodentals as languages from farming societies. Finally, they looked at the relationships among languages, and found that labiodentals can spread quickly, so that the sounds could go from being rare to common in the 8000 years since the widespread adoption of agriculture and new food processing methods such as grinding grain into flour.

Bickel suggests that as more adults developed overbites, they accidentally began to use “f” and “v” more. In ancient India and Rome, labiodentals may have been a mark of status, signaling a softer diet and wealth, he says. Those consonants also spread through other language groups; today, they appear in 76% of Indo-European languages.

Linguist Nicholas Evans of Australian National University in Canberra finds the study’s “multimethod approach to the problem” convincing. Ian Maddieson, an emeritus linguist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, isn’t sure researchers tallied the labiodentals correctly but agrees that the study shows external factors like diet can alter the sounds of speech.

The findings also suggest our facility with f-words comes at a cost. As we lost our ancestral edge-to-edge bite, “we got new sounds but maybe it wasn’t so great for us,” Moran says. “Our lower jaws are shorter, we have impacted wisdom teeth, more crowding—and cavities.”

*Correction, 15 March, 11:10 a.m.: This story erroneously stated that the newly favored consonants led to the replacement of the Latin patēr to Old English faeder about 1500 years ago. Patēr came not from Latin, but from the Proto-Indo-European language that gave rise to Latin and other languages in Europe and Asia.

A 5,000-year-old barley grain discovered in Aland, southern Finland, turns researchers’ understanding of ancient Northern livelihoods upside down. New findings reveal that hunter-gatherers took to farming already 5,000 years ago in eastern Sweden, and on the Aland Islands, located on the southwest coast of Finland.

Source: A 5,000-year-old barley grain discovered in Finland changes understanding of livelihoods

Archaeologists with the University of Cincinnati used the latest technology to find evidence suggesting ancient Maya people grew surplus crops to support an active trade with neighbors up and down the Yucatan Peninsula. They will present their findings at the annual American Association of Geographers conference in Washington, D.C. The extensive croplands suggest the ancient Maya could grow surplus crops, especially the cotton responsible for the renowned textiles that were traded throughout Mesoamerica.

Source: UC researchers find ancient Maya farms in Mexican wetlands

An international team has analyzed eight prehistoric individuals, including the first genome-wide data from a 15,000-year-old Anatolian hunter-gatherer, and found that the first Anatolian farmers were direct descendants of local hunter-gatherers. These findings provide support for archaeological evidence that farming was adopted and developed by local hunter-gatherers, rather than being introduced by a large movement of people from another area. Interestingly, the study also indicates a pattern of genetic interactions with neighboring groups.

Source: First Anatolian farmers were local hunter-gatherers that adopted agriculture

It’s that time of the year…Happy April Fool’s Day!

Ancientfoods

via The Annual Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

i hope you enjoy my annual food fun post.

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From Reuters

BBC.com

Road workers have uncovered what is thought to be the earliest evidence of beer being brewed in Britain, dating back more than 2,000 years.

Experts found “tell-tale signs of the Iron Age brew” during work on improvements to the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

It is believed the find could date back as far as 400BC.

Archaeobotanist Lara Gonzalez said it was “incredibly exciting to identify remains of this significance”.

Highways England said the find was uncovered in fragments of charred residue from the beer-making process.

Ms Gonzalez added: “I knew when I looked at these tiny fragments under the microscope that I had something special.

“The microstructure of these remains had clearly changed through the fermentation process and air bubbles typical of those formed in the boiling and mashing process of brewing.”

She said the fragments were similar to bread, but showed “evidence of fermentation and contains larger pieces of cracked grains and bran, but no fine flour”.

Dr Steve Sherlock, archaeology lead, said: “It’s a well-known fact that ancient populations used the beer-making process to purify water and create a safe source of hydration, but this is potentially the earliest physical evidence of that process taking place in the UK.”

A Highways England spokesman said further finds showed “the locals also had a taste for porridge and bread”.

The £1.5bn roadworks have already uncovered the Ice Age remains of a woolly mammoth which could be at least 150,000 years old.

‘Incredible discoveries’

It has also unearthed prehistoric henges, Iron Age settlements, Roman kilns, three Anglo-Saxon villages and a medieval hamlet.

Dr Sherlock added: “The work we are doing on the A14 continues to unearth incredible discoveries that are helping to shape our understanding of how life in Cambridgeshire, and beyond, has developed through history.”

The work includes creating a new bypass to the south of Huntingdon and upgrading 21 miles of road.

 

 

 

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