Atlantis Online
November 20, 2019, 10:24:57 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Secrets of ocean birth laid bare 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5191384.stm#graphic
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

Diet of the Ancient Mariner

Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Diet of the Ancient Mariner  (Read 43 times)
Lair of the White Worm
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 2120



« on: March 19, 2018, 01:15:11 pm »




  Tall ship Elissa moored in Port Galveston, Texas
Researchers stored 17th-century foodstuffs aboard the 19th-century tall ship Elissa as part of an investigation into how well food preservation worked during the age of discovery. Photo by age fotostock/Alamy Stock Photo



Diet of the Ancient Mariner


https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/diet-of-the-ancient-mariner/
An unprecedented archaeology experiment is putting historical shipboard food and drink to the test.


Authored by
 by Jeremy Hsu


Wordcount
 March 14th, 2018 | 700 words, about 3 minutes

Share this article
Share This:
 
 
 
 

Article body copy

In 1619, a hurricane sank the English merchant ship Warwick in Bermuda’s Castle Harbor. The struggling settlers of Jamestown, Virginia, were desperately awaiting the shipload of fresh supplies, and keenly felt the loss. Almost 400 years later, artifacts from the wreck are helping archaeologist Grace Tsai uncover if unrefrigerated food and drink remained edible and nutritious during long sea voyages.

Since 2012, Tsai, a doctoral candidate in nautical archaeology at Texas A&M University, has been studying archaeological records of provisions from three different shipwrecks from the 16th and 17th centuries and analyzing shipboard diets based on modern nutritional guidelines.

Now, Tsai and her colleagues are going one step further: for two months, they stored period-accurate provisions aboard the closest thing to the Warwick they could find—the 19th-century tall ship Elissa, docked in Galveston, Texas.

“The whole premise is to see how things age aboard ships,” Tsai says. Researchers, including her, have typically studied how to prepare food based on historical recipes, “but nobody has been testing how well they lasted on a transatlantic voyage.”

The two-month shipboard study took place from August to October 2017, and included its own hurricane scare, when Harvey swept through just a week into the experiment.

Now, Tsai and her colleagues are back in the lab, analyzing the provisions’ surviving nutritional value and investigating the microbes that grew on them. Chemical analyses could even reveal any remaining—or acquired—flavors.

Yet before they could get to this point, Tsai and her team had to make all the foodstuffs that would have sustained a 17th-century English sailor, such as salted meats, peas, oatmeal, tough ship biscuits, beer, wine, and a barrel of natural spring water. The project also included a variety of heirloom rice, which was more common in the diets of Spanish or Portuguese sailors.

To better understand the salted meats, Tsai traveled to Bermuda to study animal bones recovered from the Warwick’s wreck. Her examination of butcher marks on cattle bones helped her identify the best size to cut beef to enable preservation. The team also imported sea salt from Guérande, France, a region that has been producing salt for more than 1,000 years, which remains a chefs’ favorite.

Previously, scientists have tried to re-create food and drink from various historical periods. But independent experts agree that this project is an unprecedented experiment in maritime archaeology.

“[The experiment] would certainly be the closest we could come to replicating the stowage conditions of a sailing ship in that environment,” says Chuck Meide, director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program in Florida.

James Delgado, a maritime archaeologist and senior vice president at SEARCH, an independent archaeological consultancy in Florida, agrees. “While we’ve studied food waste and food based on archaeological remains, this is the first time, as far as I know, that someone has done experimental archaeology with shipboard provisions from that period.”

After their stint in the Elissa’s hold, many of the provisions still seem edible. For safety reasons, nobody will actually be tasting the experimental results, but the baked ship biscuits are in the best shape by far, a testament to their legendary hardiness. The salted beef, however, has taken on a pinkish center resembling prosciutto. It has a pungent smell, says Tsai, though it isn’t rotten.

A big exception is the natural spring water, which has turned cloudy with greenish bits and “smelled pretty disgusting,” Tsai says. Sailors may have preferred quenching their thirst with beer and wine, which remained more palatable. Still, a surprising amount of lingering yeast fermentation and carbonation caused the beer barrel to leak and grow mold.

Yet the biggest surprise came from the diversity of microbes found in some of the food. Early genomic sequencing analyses, mostly from the salted beef, suggest that many of the bacteria are neither illness-causing pathogens nor beneficial probiotics—most seem to be relatively neutral. The unexpected microbial bounty, however, has forced the researchers to expand their genomic sequencing efforts.

Even though no one is eating the food and drink stored aboard the Elissa, the team is organizing a fundraising event aboard the ship later this month to sample beer based on the historical recipe.

The event illustrates the project’s benefits beyond the research findings by getting more people interested in history and archaeology, says Meide. “There is something compelling about literally re-creating the past in order to learn about it.”


Article footer and bottom matter



Share this article on social media



Share this


Email this


Tweet this


Sign up for the weekly newslstter



Sign up for our weekly newsletter


     


Email Address 

 
subscribe
      


Author bio




Jeremy Hsu is a Brooklyn-based journalist who covers science and technology issues for publications such as Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Wired, IEEE Spectrum, and Undark Magazine. His recent focus has been on artificial intelligence techniques such as deep learning and the impact of automation on society. But he also maintains a strong interest in biodiversity conservation issues, space exploration technologies, and military history.





Tags and Categories
Topic:History,
Technology & Engineering
 Geographic region:North America
 Oceanographic Region:Atlantic Ocean
 Scientific Field/Discipline:Biology,
Chemistry
 

Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Jeremy Hsu “Diet of the Ancient Mariner,” Hakai Magazine, March 14th, 2018, accessed March 19th, 2018, https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/diet-of-the-ancient-mariner/.



Related Content

 

How to Get Drunken, Sailor

Five historic drinks that helped seafarers get three sheets to the wind.

December 11th, 2015 | 700 words, about 3 minutes
   

Bottoms Up

After years on the ocean floor, these five salvaged beverages were still drinkable—for better or for worse.

July 15th, 2016 | 900 words, about 4 minutes
   


Copyright information

Made next to the  in Victoria, Canada - ISSN 2371-5790

Part of the Tula Foundation and Hakai Institute family.


Ancillary links


Links to Hakai Magazine social media sites
Youtube
Twitter
Facebook
Sign up for a weekly newsletter
RSS feed
Audio edition


Links to supporting pages and information
About Us Contact Us Submission Guidelines Privacy Policy Reproduction Rights       
















Report Spam   Logged



Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy