Event: PIZZA TALK:Early globalization? Isotopic evidence of food practices in Prehistoric Italy

Date & Time

January 16, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Contact Information

Sumiji Takahashi
Phone 310-825-4169


Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)

Event Type

Pizza Talk

Event Details

Early globalization? Isotopic evidence of food practices in Prehistoric Italy

Mary Anne Tafuri

Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome

The cultural and social importance of food goes far beyond the mere necessity of nutrition, yet archaeologists have been slow to tackle issues of the sociality of food in prehistory. This is a great loss particularly as the economic transformations, which structured human diet took place in prehistory. One reason for lack of attention to this question has been limited methodologies for investigating not only what foods were produced but also exactly what foods people consumed.

The increasing application of biomolecular investigations of skeletal tissues offers an exceptionally valuable approach for directly assessing aspects of an individual’s life, including their diet, geographical origin as well as the climate they inhabited.

In the Central Mediterranean a number of important economic questions can be addressed through isotopic investigations: we can explore the balance between plant and animal sources of food in the diet of prehistoric people and how this change between the onset of the Neolithic (ca. 6000 BC) and the end of the Bronze Age (ca. 900 BC). We can assess the relative contribution of marine resources to diet the Central Mediterranean and, further, we can identify mode and tempo for the use of new foods.

This talk will present new isotopic data on a large set of sites from prehistoric Italy that span from the earliest phases of the Neolithic to the later Bronze Age. A pattern of great complexity emerges, showing profound differences between the northern and southern regions of the Peninsula, which can be associated with environmental aspects but mostly should be interpreted as different cultural practices across space and time.