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Ancient Romans ate giraffe, study finds

1:02 PM, Jan 5, 2014   |    comments
Giraffes in the Chobe National Park in Botswana. (Photo: Charmaine Noronha, AP)
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Researchers digging around the drains of ancient Pompeii have learned about some unusual Roman eating habits.

The scientists found the remains of a giraffe and sea urchin in the drain of a onetime restaurant, LiveScience reports.

"This is thought to be the only giraffe bone ever recorded from an archaeological excavation in Roman Italy," researcher Steven Ellis, of the University of Cincinnati, says.

"How part of the animal, butchered, came to be a kitchen scrap in a seemingly standard Pompeian restaurant not only speaks to long-distance trade in exotic and wild animals, but also something of the richness, variety and range of a non-elite diet."

Indeed, the research contradicts the idea that less-wealthy Romans were a "mass of hapless lemmings" desperate for anything to eat.

The team dug up some 20 shop fronts, finding food and human waste in cesspits and latrines.

The oldest finds dated to the third century B.C.; spices came all the way from Indonesia, reports the Daily Mail, which has photos of the excavation.

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