Skip to main content Accessibility help

Food and drink in European prehistory

  • Jacqui Wood (a1)


There is a wealth of archaeological evidence, from bones excavated in prehistoric middens, piles of fruit stones and sea shells, that give us concrete indications of food consumed at various prehistoric sites around Europe. In addition to this information, we have pollen analysis from settlement sites and charred plant macrofossils. Wetland archaeology informs us in much more detail about not only the types of foods that were being eaten in prehistory but also, in some cases, their cooking techniques. This paper will explore whether or not a popular misconception about the daily diet in prehistory has its roots in the analysis of stomach contents of various bog bodies found in Europe.

De la faune provenant des fouilles de dépôts de cuisine préhistoriques, au tas de noyaux de fruits et de coquilles marines, nous avons une profusion d'evidence archéologique qui nous donne une indication concrète du type de nourriture consommée sur différents sites préhistoriques européens. A toutes ces informations on peut ajouter les résultats obtenus par l'analyse des pollens de sites sédentaires et les macrofossiles de plantes carbonisées. L'archéologie des régions marécageuses nous apporte des informations trés détaillées non seulement en ce qui concerne la nourriture de nos ancêtres préhistoriques mais aussi au sujet des techniques de cuisine utilisées. Cet article se penche sur l'origine d'une misconception populaire au sujet de la diète journalière en préhistoire, et se demande si l'analyse du contenu de l'estomac de plusieurs corps retrouvés dans les tourbières de l'Europe pourrait bien être responsable.


Es gibt eine Vielfalt an archäologischen Zeugnissen, aus prähistorischen Abfällen ergrabene Knochen, Haufen von Obstkernen und Muschelschalen, die uns konkrete Hinweise auf Nahrung geben, die auf verschiedenen prähistorischen Fundstätten Europas verzehrt wurde. Zusätzlich hierzu stehen uns Pollenanalysen aus Siedlungen und verkohlte Makroreste von Pflanzen zur Verfügung. Die Feuchtbodenarchäologie liefert weit detailliertere Informationen nicht zur zu den Nahrungsmitteln, die unsere prähistorischen Vorfahren aßen, sondern auch zu ihren Kochmethoden. Dieser Artikel untersucht, ob eine verbreitete falsche Vorstellung von der täglichen Ernährung in der Prähistorie in der Analyse von Mageninhalten von verschiedenen europäischen Moorleichen wurzelt.



Hide All
Andersen, S.H., 1985. Tybrind Vig: a preliminary report on a submerged Ertebolle settlement on the west coast of Fyn. Journal of Danish Archaeology 4:5269.
Audouze, F. and Buchsenschutz, O., 1991. Villages and Countryside of Celtic Europe. London: BCA
Avery, M., 1982. The Neolithic Enclosure, Abingdon. CBA Research Report No. 44. Oxford: CBA.
Buck, P., 1974. The Coming of the Maori, 2nd edn. Christchurch, New Zealand: Whitcoulls.
Buckley, V., 1990. Burnt Offerings. International Contributions to Burnt Mound Archaeology. Dublin: Wordwell.
David, E., 1977. English Bread and Yeast Cookery. London: Penguin.
Davidson, M.W. ed., 1992. Everyday Life through the Ages. London. Readers Digest.
Diodorus, Siculus, 1699. In Booths Diodorus the Sicilian Fifteen Books to which are Added the Fragments of Diodorus that are Found in the Bibliotheca of Photius, Vol. 5. Printed by Edward Jones for A. and J. Churchill at the Black Swan in Paternoster Row.
Dolukhanov, P.M., 1992. Evolution of lakes and prehistoric settlement in north-western Russia. In Coles, B. (ed.), The Wetland Revolution in Prehistory. WARP 6:96. Exeter: Short Run Press.
Dyer, J., 1990. Ancient Britain. London: B.T. Batsford.
Evershed, P. and Dudd, S.M., 1998. Direct demonstration of milk as an element of archaeological economics. Science 282:14781481.
Firth, R., 1957. We, the Tikopia. A Sociological Study of Kinship in Primitive Polynesia. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Harris, D., 1997. First farmers were colonists after all. British Archaeology 27:89.
Harris, D., Hooper, S. and Trudglan, P., 1984. Excavation of three cairns on Stannon Downs, St Breward, Cornwall. Cornish Archaeology 23:141154. (This paper is a summary of excavations carried out during 1976 and 1977.)
Herodotus, 1957. The Histories: 4 Volumes. The Loeb Classical Library. London: Heinemann, Harvard University Press.
Higgenbotham, E.A.K., 1977. Excavations at Wooley Barrows, Morwenstow, Cornwall. Cornish Archaeology 16:1016.
Holubetzg, A., 1997. Cooking and eating among the Siriono of Bolivia. In Kuper, J. (ed.), The Anthropologists' Cookbook, 2nd edn: 159160. London: T.J. International.
Jackson, A., 1997. Faroese fare. In Kuper, J. (ed.), The Anthropologists' Cookbook, 2nd edn: 3740. London: T.J. International.
Keating, G. G., 1908. The History of Ireland, Vol. 2. The Irish Texts Society. London: Dinneen.
Masson, M., 1974. The Compleat Cook or the Secrets of a Seventeenth Century Housewife Rebbeca Price. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
Mollat Du Jourdin, M., 1993. Europe and the Sea. Oxford: Blackwell.
Nowakowski, J., 1991. Trethellan Farm, Newquay: excavations of a lowland Bronze Age settlement and Iron Age cemetery. Cornish Archaeology 30:5759; 140–141.
O'Drisceoil, D.A., 1990. Fulachta Fliadh: the value of early Irish literature. In Emer, Condit (ed.), Burnt Offerings, International Contributions to Burnt Mound Archaeology (compiled by Buckley, V.): 157160. Dublin: Wordwell.
O'Kelly, M., 1954. Excavations and Experiments in Ancient Irish Cooking-Places. Dublin: Royal Society of Antiquities of Ireland.
Parker Pearson, M., 1993. Bronze Age Britain. London: Batsford/English Heritage. Peacock, D.P.S., 1969. A Romano-British salt-working site at Trebarveth, St Keverne. Cornish Archaeology 8:4755.
Piotrowski, W., 1992. Biskupin fortified settlement and its environment and archaeological studies. In Coles, B. (ed.), The Wetland Revolution in Prehistory. WARP 6:90–91. Exeter: Short Run Press.
Pliny The, Elder, 1967. Natural History, 10 Volumes. Translated by Rackham, H., edited by Page, T.E., Capes, E., Rouse, W.H.D. and Post, L.A. London: Heinemann, The Loeb Classical Library.
Ratcliffe, J. and Straker, V., 1996. The Early Environment of Scilly. Cornwall: Archaeological Unit Publication.
Renfrew, J., 1985. Foods and Cooking in Prehistoric Britain. London: English Heritage Publication.
Reynolds, P., 1976. Farming in the Iron Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Robinson, D.E., 1993. Crop Plants in Danish Prehistory. Copenhagen: Arkeologiske Udgravninger 1 Danmark.
Rowley-Conwy, P., 1997. York. In sorrow thou eat all thy days. British Archaeology 21:7.
Sherratt, A., 1981. Plough and pastoralism: aspects of the secondary products revolution. In Hodder, I., Isaac, G. and Hammond, N. (eds), Patterns of the Past: 276282. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
Strabo, 1969. The Geography of Strabo, 8 Volumes. Translated by Jones, H.L., edited by Page, T.E., Capes, E., Rouse, W.H.D. and , L.A. Post. London: Heinemann, The Loeb Classical Library.
Straker, V., 1991. Trethellan Farm, Newquay. Cornish Archaeology 30:161165.
Struve, K., 1967. Die Moorleiche von Datgen: ein Diskussionsbetreige zur Stafopferthese. Offa 24:3376.
Tacitus, 1948. Tacitus on Britain and Germany. Middlesex: Penguin.
Tierney, J.J., 1960. The Celtic Ethnography of Posidonius. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 60 Section C, No. 5.
Tomasi, G., 1982. The lake-dwellings of Lake Ledro. Natura Alpina. Rivista della societa di scienze naturali del trentino 33:17.
Turner, R.C. and Scaife, R.G., (eds), 1995. Bog Bodies. London: British Museum Press.
Wilson, Hillary, 1998. Egyptian Food and Drink.
Wise, J.H., 1965. Ancient Hawaiian civilisation. A series of lectures delivered at the Kamehameha schools. London: Prentice Hall.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed