Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Organic residues and cultural change in Iron Age and Roman Britain

Antiquity Vol 85:330, 2011 pp 1339-1352 - Lucy J.E. Cramp and others - What was a mortarium used for? Organic residues and cultural change in Iron Age and Roman Britain
http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/085/ant0851339.htm

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Volume: 85  Number: 330  Page: 1339–1352
What was a mortarium used for? Organic residues and cultural change in Iron Age and Roman Britain
Lucy J.E. Cramp12, Richard P. Evershed2 and Hella Eckardt1
1Department of Archaeology, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AB, UK, and 2Organic Geochemistry Unit, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Cantock's Close, Bristol BS8 1TS, UK (Email for correspondence: lucy.cramp@bristol.ac.uk)

 The Romans brought the mortarium to Britain in the first century AD, and there has long been speculation on its actual purpose. Using analysis of the residues trapped in the walls of these 'kitchen blenders' and comparing them with Iron Age and Roman cooking pots, the authors show that it wasn't the diet that changed — just the method of preparing certain products: plants were being ground in the mortarium as well as cooked in the pot. As well as plants, the mortars contained animal fats, including dairy products. The question that remains, however, is why these natural products were being mixed together in mortaria. Were they for food, pharmaceuticals or face creams?

Keywords: Iron Age and Roman Britain, first–fourth centuries AD, mortaria, diet, lipids

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