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Public Lectures: Food, Archaeology, and Art

KNIR Research Dialogues (KRD)
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This KNIR Research Dialogue consists of two lectures:

What did we eat before pizza? The archaeology of food and consumption in the Medieval Mediterranean (Joanita Vroom)

True knowledge is achieved when the deepest scholarly ideas converge with the shallowest clichés. One clear example is the observation ‘you are what you eat’. This insight sheds light on our dietary behaviour, but also generated stimulating research by sociologists and anthropologists. Unfortunately, archaeologists of the Mediterranean Middle Ages have often neglected evidence related to foodways, leaving a gap in our knowledge of daily life in that period. This lecture sets out to improve this situation by presenting case studies from the Byzantine and Islamic worlds. By combining written sources (including recipes), pictorial evidence, and archaeological data, it aims to deepen our understanding of gastronomic and consumption patterns in the Medieval Mediterranean.

About the speaker
Joanita Vroom is Professor of the Archaeology of Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University (NL), specializing in Medieval and Post-Medieval archaeology in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East (including the Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, and Ottoman periods). She takes a particular interest in the socio-economic (production and distribution) and cultural aspects (cuisine and eating habits) of material culture (including ceramics) in these post-Roman societies. She is the series editor of the ‘Medieval and Post-Medieval Mediterranean Archaeology Series’ (MPMAS) at Brepols Publishers (Turnhout). Her most recent publication is: Vroom, J. (ed.) 2023, Feeding the Byzantine City: The Archaeology of Consumption in the Eastern Mediterranean (ca. 500-1500) (Medieval and Post-Medieval Mediterranean Archaeology Series V), Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.
For her many publications, take a look at her Academia and ResearchGate pages.
For further information on her various (NWO) research projects and international field projects, consult her university page.


Scappi’s kitchen equipment: Cooking hardware of a Renaissance Papal chef (Alexandra van Dongen)

Roman chef Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera dell’arte del cucinare was published in 1570. His cookbook, with more than thousand recipes, is a unique illustrated kitchen manual, written for Scappi’s apprentice Giuseppe. It offers 21st-century researchers an interdisciplinary perspective of a Renaissance kitchen. In her lecture, Alexandra van Dongen explores visual, material and archaeological artefacts to reconstruct Scappi’s kitchen equipment. At Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Van Dongen has developed the ALMA Research Project (Art Linked to Material Artefacts) to identify and analyse depictions of material artefacts in European art.

About the speaker
Alexandra van Dongen (Leiden, 1961) is Curator Historic Design at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She was trained as a museologist and art historian (Leiden University). She has worked at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam since 1986 and acquired the position of curator of historic design in 1992.