Food and foodways in Phoenician and Punic Sardinia
: new data from organic resdiue analysis on cookware

  • Leonardo Bison

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The project aims to uncover new information about foodways, culinary practices and vessel use in Phoenician and Punic
Sardinia (8th
nd centuries BCE), through the application of organic residue analysis (GC; GC-MS; GC-C-IRMS) to 368
sherds of vessels involved in food cooking and preparation from six different archaeological sites. In Phoenician and
Punic Sardinia, ceramic technology and vessel shape changed significantly, especially due to the movement and
encounter of people and ideas, but the study of foodways and vessel use on the island has been largely based on written
and iconographic sources and vessel shape. Organic residue analysis was chosen as the analytical technique for its
potential for detecting the commodities processed in single vessels, and to tackle questions regarding consumption and
use of products, like milk or honey, which are not archaeologically detectable without organic residue analyses.
Research questions are: 1) what commodities were processed in the main ceramic categories involved in cooking and
food preparation practices?; 2) what do the detected commodities suggest about vessel use and specialisation?; 3) what
do the detected commodities suggest about changes in cuisine and diet over time?; 4) are infra-site and inter-site spatial
patterns identified through ORA?.
The results obtained through ORA have been contextualised within the previously available material and written
sources, including archaeological, literary, epigraphic, iconographic, palaeobotanical, faunal and anthropological data.
This led to obtain the first direct evidence of milk processing in ancient Sardinia, the first significant evidence of
widespread honey use, and new information about vessel-specific uses. New questions, about continuity of foodways
over time and possible coexistence of different culinary cultures on the island, have been set for further research.
Finally, a first major organic residue dataset on pottery in Phoenician and Punic Sardinia and in central and western
Mediterranean has been created, able to orientate and stimulate further analyses.
Date of Award11 May 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMélanie Roffet-Salque (Supervisor), Lucy J E Cramp (Supervisor), Ben Jervis (Supervisor) & Tamar Hodos (Supervisor)

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