Stable isotope and dental pathology evidence for diet in late Roman Winchester, England

Laura A. Bonsall*, Catriona Pickard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We combine analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes and dental pathology to reconstruct diet in a population from late Roman Winchester. The study's aim was to compare isotopic and dental indicators of diet, and combine these with other archaeological evidence to provide a more complete picture of food-ways in a late Romano-British town. Mean δ13C and δ15N values indicate a diet based largely on terrestrial C3 resources, and comparison with faunal values suggests that meat and/or dairy products from domesticates likely contributed the bulk of dietary protein. Dental pathology points to a carbohydrate-rich diet. Considered together, the isotopic and dental pathology data suggest a predominantly plant-based diet, with moderate consumption of meat and/or secondary products. A second aim of the study was to compare the findings with the contemporaneous but distinct cemetery assemblage from Lankhills School, Winchester, to test the theory that diet may have differed between sub-populations of the late Roman town. The results suggest broad similarity in the diets of individuals interred in different cemetery areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-140
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Early online date29 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Roman Britain
  • Palaeodietary reconstruction
  • δ13C
  • δ15N
  • Dental disease
  • Caries


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