Ancient Romans are known for eating well, with mosaics from the empire portraying sumptuous displays of fruits, vegetables, cakes — and, of course, wine. But the 98 percent of Romans who were non-elite and whose feasts weren't preserved in art may have been stuck eating birdseed.
Common people in ancient Rome ate millet, a grain looked down upon by the wealthy as fit only for livestock, according to a new study published in the March issue of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. And consumption of millet may have been linked to overall social status, with relatively poorer suburbanites eating more of the grain than did wealthier city dwellers.
The results come from an analysis of anonymous skeletons in the ancient city's cemeteries.
"We don't know anything about their lives, which is why we're trying to use biochemical analysis to study them," said study leaderKristina Killgrove, an anthropologist at the University of West Florida.
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