Cuisine in transition? Organic residue analysis of domestic containers from 9th-14th century Sicily

Jasmine Lundy*, Lea Drieu, Paola Orecchioni, Antonino Meo, Veronica Aniceti, Girolamo Fiorentino, Milena Primavera, Helen M. Talbot, Alessandra Molinari, Martin Oswald Hugh Carver, Oliver Edward Craig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From the 9th to 14th centuries AD, Sicily experienced a series
of rapid and quite radical changes in political regime, but the
impact of these regime changes on the lives of the people
that experienced them remains largely elusive within the
historical narrative. We use a multi-faceted lipid residue
approach to give direct chemical evidence of the use of 248
everyday domestic ceramic containers from Islamic and postIslamic contexts in western Sicily to aid our understanding
of daily habits throughout this period of political change.
A range of commodities was successfully identified,
including animal fats, vegetable products, fruit products
(potentially including wine) and plant resins. The study
highlights the complexity of residues in early medieval
Mediterranean society as, in many cases, mixtures of
commodities were observed reflecting sequential cooking
events and/or the complex mixtures reflective of medieval
recipes. However, overall, there were no clear changes in the
composition of the residues following the imposition of
Norman control over the island and through subsequent
periods, despite some differences between urban centers and rural sites. Thus, lending to the idea that post-Islamic populations largely flourished and benefited from the agricultural systems, resources and recipes left by their predecessors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number221305
Number of pages17
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Early online date8 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Mar 2023

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