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Greek Diet, Health, and Medicine in the Roman world: Integration and Analysis of the Archaeological

Concepts and attitudes towards diet, health, and medicine in the Roman world were heavily influenced by Greek beliefs and practices. Later Greek and Roman medical writers such as Galen built upon a Greek foundation and followed existing traditions. Yet did Greek concepts of health and medicine spread to all regions of the Roman Empire?

The study of diet, health and medicine in the Roman world, from an archaeological perspective, has grown exponentially in the last few decades with the increased study of archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological remains as well as advances in isotopic analysis. Nevertheless, the impact of Greek concepts on Roman beliefs and practices has never been fully explored, and at present, there has been no amalgamation of the literary and archaeological evidence. How do we assess Greek influence archaeologically? Can the claims of both Greek and Roman authors concerning health be reconciled with the existing bioarchaeological and material evidence?

This conference will examine the impact of Greek thought on Roman notions of diet, health and medicine from both the literary and archaeological perspectives with the goal of forming a more holistic understanding of the activities taking place to maintain good health amongst both the elite and non-elite members of Roman society.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 09-10-11709/2015

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Exeter (Exeter, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Daniel King - Erica Rowan (University of Exeter)

INFO: web - -



Wednesday September 9, Upper Lounge, Reed Hall

9:00-9:45 Arrival and Registration

9:45-10:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks: Erica Rowan

10:00-11:00 Key note paper 1: ‘Healing with Plants in Ancient Greece: an Archaeobotanical Investigation’

Soultana-Maria Valamoti, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

11:00-11.30 Tea/Coffee


David Leith, University of Exeter

12.30-2:00 Lunch (provided)

Session 1: A Literary Approach, Chair: John Wilkins, University of Exeter


Paulina Komar, University of Liverpool

2:45-3:30 ‘Too Much Blue Cheese and Wine: Greek Representations of Gout in the Imperial Period’

Daniel King, University of Exeter

3:30-4:00 Tea/Coffee

4:00-4:45 ‘Xenophontic Influence on Roman Appetites: Enkrateia and Epitedeumata’

Chris Farrell, University of Exeter

4:45-5:30 ‘Melancholy in Alexander of Tralle’s Therapeutika’

Laura Mareri, University of Macerata, Italy

5:30 ‘Taste and texture in the mouth and in the humours, according to Galen’ Demonstration by John Wilkins and Michelin Star chef Shaun Hill (Upper landing, Reed Hall)

6:00 Drinks Reception

Thursday September 10, Upper Lounge, Reed Hall

Session 2: Ancient Texts and Bioarchaeology, Chair: Daniel King, University of Exeter

9:00-9:45 ‘The Impact of the Roman Imperial Army on the Spread of Greek Notions of Diet, Health and Medicine’ Ido Israelowich, Tel Aviv University, Israel

9:45-10:30 ‘An Elemental (Re)turn for Archaeology – the Case of Roman Zootherapy’

Holly Miller, University of Nottingham

10:30-11:00 Tea/Coffee

11:00-11:45 ‘From Drug to Delicacy: Pepper in the Greek and Roman Worlds’

Jeremy Simmons, Columbia University, New York

11:45-12:30 ‘Impact of Greek Diet and Health Practices in Roman Italy: The Archaeobotanical Evidence’

Erica Rowan, University of Exeter

12.30-2:00 Lunch (provided)

Session 3: Integration of the Literary and Archaeological Evidence, Chair: Erica Rowan, University of Exeter

2:00-2:45 ‘Concepts of Salubrious Environments: Greek Ascelpia and their Influence on Roman Gardens’

Patricia Baker, University of Kent

2:45-3:30 ‘Integrating Literary Discourse and Medical Sciences on the Diagnosis of Bone Disorders in Archaeological Remains of Infants’

Elisa Groff, University of Exeter

3:30-4:00 Tea/Coffee

4:00-4:45 ‘Putting the Taste Back into Roman Food and Medicine’

John Wilkins, University of Exeter

4:45-5:30 ‘Materia Medica of Cyprus in Roman Writers: its use in Health, Medicine and Diet’

Athina Malapani, University of Athens

7:00pm Conference Dinner – Côte Brasserie

Friday September 11, Upper Lounge, Reed Hall

Session 4: Bioarchaeological Evidence for Diet in the Graeco-Roman World, Chair: Paul Erdkamp,

10:15-10:45 Tea/Coffee

10:45-11:30 ‘Nutrition, Hygiene, and Mortality: Setting Parameters for Roman Health and Life Expectancy’

Geoffrey Kron, University of Victoria, Canada

11:30-12:30 ‘Response’

Jerry Rose, University of Arkansas

12.30-1:30 Lunch (provided)

Round Table and Concluding Comments

1:30-2:30 Round Table

2:30-3:00 Concluding Remarks

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