About.com usually provides pretty reliable information, so people may find this useful.
Friday March 27, 2009
At least that’s how I chose to read it. People have started asking me questions on Twitter instead of via email, so I can’t claim this is an email question:
Do you have any suggested reading on diet and everyday life in late antiquity / early Dark Ages?
One problem with answering questions on Twitter is the 140-character limit. My initial reaction to the question was that this is something Melissa Snell, Medieval History Guide, probably has lots of information on, and that’s still my answer, but I did find and recommend an interesting article: “Female Longevity and Diet in the Middle Ages,” by Vern Bullough and Cameron Campbell. Speculum, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Apr., 1980), pp. 317-325. The point made is that around the 9th century women started outliving men because there was finally enough protein and iron in the diet. This came following a change in farming methods. The earlier, Roman diet had consisted of mostly bread, made of rye, wheat, or barley mixtures, and a broth made from whatever was available. In the ninth century, a new plow was developed and a three-field rotation replaced a two-field rotation. In addition, by the time of Charlemagne, protein-providing and plentiful rabbits had been introduced from Spain making meat more available for peasants.