Archaeology of food

Speaking of conferences, there’s another one that’s worth keeping an eye on, which I learned about via Eurekalert. It’s called Food and Drink in Archaeology 2007 and will feature a keynote address by Professor Martin Jones of the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge entitled “Feast: Why Humans Share Food.”

Why is this relevant to us here at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog? Well…

Whilst the importance of nutrition for survival has long been recognised, recent studies have increasingly stressed the cultural significance of the production, distribution and consumption of foodstuffs through out all archaeological periods. An understanding of diet in past societies is therefore crucial to an understanding of daily life, and the relationships between different classes and societies throughout the world.

Traditional farming in Spain … and elsewhere

Trillo-2-2 National Geographic has a fine feature called Photo of the Day. Today’s shows a Spanish farmer with a wooden, sled-like contraption with sharp rocks embedded in the bottom. It’s a threshing board, used at harvest time to cut up straw, separate cereal grains from chaff and break open chickpea pods. Now, unfortunately I can’t just take the NatGeo photo and put it up here for you to see, you’ll just have to go to their site, but I did look around for an illustration that was in the public domain, and I found it at, in a fascinating article on the history of these tools. The NatGeo photo is worth seeing, though. While surfing, I also ended up at the Food Museum Online, which I’d never come across before. It’s not the prettiest looking site, but it has some great content, including illustrations of traditional farming practices and tools. There’s also a blog, with a feed.

Photo of a Spanish “trillo” by José-Manuel Benito

Alternative livelihoods

Do wander over to the latest edition of New Agriculturist, which, among other things, has a great feature giving examples of farmers adopting new crops and other ways of making a living as alternatives to illicit, environmentally damaging or otherwise inappropriate ones.