Topic ID #17160 - posted 3/24/2012 5:17 AM

Archaeologists Reconstruct Diet of Nelson's Navy With New Chemical Analysis of Excavated Bones



Jennifer Palmer

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Archaeologists Reconstruct Diet of Nelson's Navy With New Chemical Analysis of Excavated Bones

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) — Salt beef, sea biscuits and the occasional weevil; the food endured by sailors during the Napoleonic wars is seldom imagined to be appealing. Now a new chemical analysis technique has allowed archaeologists to find out just how dour the diet of Georgian sailors really was. The team's findings, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology also reveal how little had changed for sailors in the 200 years between the Elizabethan and Georgian eras.

The research, led by Professor Mark Pollard from the University of Oxford, focused on bones from 80 sailors who served from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries and were buried in Royal Naval Hospital cemeteries in Plymouth and Portsmouth.

"An isotopic analysis of bone collagen from the recovered skeletons allowed us to reconstruct average dietary consumption," said Dr Pollard. "By comparing these findings to primary documentary evidence we can build a more accurate picture of life in Nelson's navy."

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