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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




An examination of archaeological and textual evidence for cooking—specifically, cooking pots—in Italy reveals a significant amount of information about transforming status, culture, and identity under the later Empire and Late Antiquity. There was never was one “Roman” diet or form of cooking, even under the early Empire. The diet of the poor was often in flux, and depended on local resources, traditions, and economic conditions. Elite cooking, meanwhile, is easily identifiable both archaeologically and textually, and marked by the use of multiple vessels in conjunction to prepare elaborate, sauce-rich meals.

By the fifth century there was a winnowing of ceramic forms and changes in the vocabulary used for cooking and cooking pots. The aristocratic table was transforming, altered by destabilizing economic factors and the moral standards of Christianity. For a time, elite cooking adapted to changing social and economic conditions, an example of cultural continuity in Late Antiquity. The cooking patterns of the poor became increasingly homogenized. This, combined with skeletal evidence that indicates peasants likely lived longer, suggests a growing stability for the rural communities of Italy. New peoples, including Byzantines and Ostrogoths, brought with them distinct cooking traditions.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.