Saturday, 21 March 2020
What chemical analyzes of human bones tell us about kitchen utensils in the Middle Ages
Clay pots? Wooden spoons? Copper pots? Silver forks? What materials has man used for making kitchen utensils throughout history? A new study now sheds light on the use of kitchen utensils made of copper.
At first thought, you would not expect hundreds of years old bones from a medieval cemetery to be able to tell you very much – let alone anything about what kinds of kitchen utensils were used to prepare food.
But when you put such a bone in the hands of Professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen, University of Southern Denmark, the bone begins to talk about the past.
A warehouse full of bones
– For the first time, we have succeeded in tracing the use of copper cookware in bones. Not in isolated cases, but in many bones over many years, and thus we can identify trends in historical use of copper in the household, he explains.
The research team has analyzed bones from 553 skeletons that are between 1200 and 200 years old. They all come from nine, now abandoned cemeteries in Jutland, Denmark and Northern Germany. The skeletons are today kept at Schloss Gottorf in Schleswig, Germany and at the University of Southern Denmark.
Some of the bones examined are from Danish cities such as Ribe and Haderslev, while others are from small rural communities, such as Tirup and Nybøl.
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