Ancient mariners' diet revealed

Last updated 10:15 13/08/2010
Olives
MAIN STAPLE: The sheer quality of olive stones found on a shipwreck has provided an insight into the diet of ancient mariners, researchers say.

Relevant offers

Food & Wine

How to make disaster-free Yorkshire puddings Restaurant feels wrath of online criticism Do frozen veges have more nutrients than fresh? Recipe: Kumara & banana muffins On finding NZ's best pie Your gorgeous gluten-free recipes 100s and 1000s chocolate hits the spot Inside a M-Chef judge's kitchen Seven signs you're faking your gluten allergy Incredible edible pizza creations

A huge quantity of olive stones on an ancient shipwreck more than 2,000 years old has provided valuable insight into the diet of sailors in the ancient world, researchers in Cyprus said.

The shipwreck, dating from around 400 B.C. and laden mainly with wine amphorae from the Aegean island of Chios and other north Aegean islands, was discovered deep under the sea off Cyprus's southern coast.

Excavation on the site, which started in November 2007, has determined that the ship was a merchant vessel of the late classical period.

"An interesting piece of evidence that gives us information on the conditions under which the sailors of antiquity lived, are the large numbers of olive pips that were found during excavation, since these pips must have been part of the crew's food supply," Cyprus's antiquities department said in a news release Thursday.

The excavation is shedding light on seafaring in Cyprus in antiquity, commerce between the island and the Aegean and the sizes of the period's cargo ships, it said.

Olives and olive oil are a staple of the Mediterranean diet and their consumption over hundreds of years has been well documented.

Italian archaeologists discovered that some of the world's oldest perfumes, made in Cyprus, were olive oil based. The commodity was also used to fire copper furnaces.

Apart from the amphorae, or large clay wine jars, two lead rods with remains of wood were found.

"This especially rare find enhances the importance of the shipwreck and strengthens the possibilities of finding preserved wood from the ship's keel," the department said.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Recipe search

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which snack do you think is best?

Twisties

Lamingtons

K Bars

Moro

Jet Planes

Crunchie

Jaffas

Pineapple Lumps

Burger Rings

Chocolate Fish

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content

Laura Faire Cookbook Promotion