WHILE RICH ROMANS FEASTED,
THE POOR ATE — BIRDSEED?
HEALTH studies hype the modern Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, fish and nuts, as a good way to avoid heart disease.
In ancient Rome, however, diet varied based on social class and where a person lived.
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 millet — used today for birdseed you buy in pet shops.
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.