Ancient Sewer Reveals Roman Diet

Scientists sift through waste to find veggie-heavy evidence
By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2011 4:46 PM CDT
Updated Jun 18, 2011 7:00 PM CDT
A stretch of garden wall ringing an ancient house in Pompeii, neighboring Herculaneum.   (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)

(Newser) – Researchers have discovered the biggest load of crap from ancient Rome, and they're using it to determine how Romans lived 2,000 years ago. After sifting through 750 sacks of human excrement discovered in the sewers below the town of Herculaneum, scientists have deduced that Romans ate a lot of vegetables, sea urchins, fish, figs, olives, and eggs, report the BBC and Daily Mail. The waste also had a high white blood cell count, indicating a bacterial infection.

"We can find out such a lot about what Romans ate by sifting through the poo and in essence it is the classic Mediterranean Diet, plenty of fish and fruit," says one of the leading researchers. Along with its neighbor Pompeii, Herculaneum was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. The sewer also had pottery, coins, beads, and jewelry. (Read more Ancient Rome stories.)

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