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What's a natural diet? (with Amy Styring)

Episode summary

Around 6000 years ago in Northwest Europe, our ancestors transitioned from hunter-gatherer societies to sedentary farming. How did their diets change during this time? The field of archaeological sciences and chemistry teamed up to shed new light on this question. 

In this episode, we ask Amy Styring (Archaeological chemist at the U Oxford) what's her take on a natural diet, whether we overestimate the role of meat in our past diets, and what lessons can we learn today if we have a better understanding of how people produced and ate food in the past?

Listen to part 2, What's a natural diet? (with Richard Tellström) where we speak with a meal historian on the role culture plays in informing what we eat.

[ Transcript available ]

About Amy Styring

Amy Styring is Associate Professor of Archaeological Science at the University of Oxford. As an archaeological chemist, she is interested in advancing scientific methods that reveal a direct and detailed picture of everyday life in the past, particularly in relation to how people produced their food and the impact that this had on the environment.


Background reading and resources

Nature Communications: Human consumption of seaweed and freshwater aquatic plants in ancient Europe. (Stephen Buckley et al., 2023)

Biological Sciences: Proteomic evidence of dietary sources in ancient dental calculus. (Jessica Hendy et al., 2018)

Biological Sciences: Immediate replacement of fishing with dairying by the earliest farmers of the northeast Atlantic archipelagos. (Lucy J.E. Cramp et al., 2014). 

Nature: Archaeology: Sharp shift in diet at onset of Neolithic. (Michael P. Richards, Rick J. Schulting, Richard E.M. Hedges, 2003) 


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What's a natural diet? (with Richard Tellström)

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