Latrines, sewers show varied ancient Roman diet

Having myself worked with archaeologists, I know just how excited they get whenever a latrine turns up. Excitement assured, then, with this headline.

— Archaeologists picking through latrines, sewers, cesspits and trash dumps at Pompeii and Herculaneum have found tantalizing clues to an apparently varied diet there before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed those Roman cities in 79 A.D.

Much of what residents didn’t digest or left on their plates went down into latrine holes, became remnants in cesspits built up over the centuries or was thrown away in local dumps. At a three-day conference ending Friday in Rome, archaeologists discussed their discoveries, including gnawed-on fish bones and goose eggshells that were possibly ancient delicacies for the elite……………..


a latrine entry shaft into a sewer with calcium phosphate build-up on the side.

get ready for the Saturnalia

English Heritage are putting on talks on the Festival of Saturnalia, to be held at Corbridge Roman Town on 20th December

Join English Heritage’s Curator of Roman Collections, Frances McIntosh, as she brings the story of the Roman festival, Saturnalia, to life.

Booking essential.


Latin lovers revive the language

LATIN is showing distinct signs of life in Italy as students flock to Rome to learn it and a new Italian magazine publishes the world’s first Latin crossword.

Hebdomada Aenigmatum, or Weekly Puzzles, a free online Latin language publication launched this summer, now has 3000 subscribers, including about 100 in the UK.

Besides a crossword, it offers Sudoku and join-the-dots puzzles using Roman numerals as well as news reports featuring personalities such as Baracus Obama and Robertinus Williams.

For light relief, the magazine runs the cartoon Insuperabilis Snupius, also known as Snoopy, while recipes include tubus Siculus, or Sicilian cannoli, and assata bovilla, or roast beef.

“The success of the publication proves Latin is still very much alive,” said Luca Desiata, 42, an engineer with the Italian energy company ENEL, who invented Latin word games at school and now runs My Latin Lover, an organisation that promotes the use of the language.

“Readers are writing in to say that the magazine helps them go on practising the language they love,” he said.

Mr Desiata said he used a Latin dictionary updated with modern terms such as jet plane — aeronavis retroversus impulsus — to write his articles, including reports on the World Cup: Poculum mundanum pedifollicum.

The revival has been reflected in the translation of Harry Potter into Latin, but there is more concrete proof in Rome, home to an educational institute where all conversations must be carried out in Latin………..

read on