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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Dr Andrew R Millard

Redfern, Rebecca, Gowland, Rebecca, Millard, Andrew, Powell, Lindsay & Gröcke, Darren (2018). ‘From the mouths of babes’ a subadult dietary stable isotope perspective on Roman London (Londinium). Journal of Archaeological Science 19: 1030-1040.

Author(s) from Durham


Londinium (48–410 CE) was the focus for Roman administration and trade in Britain; it was established and inhabited by people from across the Empire who continued to practice their diverse food-ways. Roman London was a unique settlement, whose fluctuating economic and political fortunes throughout Roman occupation are clearly evidenced in the archaeological and historical records. This study conducts stable isotope analysis of the diet of a large sample of subadults (0–20 years old) dating from the 1st to 4th centuries AD in London. It includes an assessment of breastfeeding and weaning practices, but aims to focus more on the diets of older children and the transition to ‘adult’ dietary behaviours. The rib bones of 100 subadults and 20 adults were sampled for carbon and nitrogen isotopes. Using these data, we identified an infant feeding pattern that differed from contemporaneous sites in Italy and which remained unchanged over time, a special diet for nursing females, and temporal changes in diet, whereby subadults consumed greater quantities of freshwater resources compared to adults during periods of economic instability.