Giraffe was on the menu in Pompeii's standard restaurants, says a new research into a non-elite section of the ancient Roman city buried by Mount Vesuvius' eruption in 79 A.D.
The study, which will be presented on Jan. 4 at the Archaeological Institute of America and American Philological Association Joint Annual Meeting in Chicago, draws on a multi-year excavation in a forgotten area inside one of the busiest gates of Pompeii, the Porta Stabia.
Photos: The Hunt for Lost Cities
Steven Ellis, a University of Cincinnati associate professor of classics, said his team has spent more than a decade researching the life of the middle and lower classes in Pompeii, including the foods they ate.
The excavated area covered 10 separate building plots, comprising homes and a total of 20 shop fronts, most of which served food and drink.
The researchers dug out drains as well as 10 latrines and cesspits, and analyzed residues such as excrement and food waste from kitchens.
It emerged that the poor ate rather well in Pompeii, living on a diet of inexpensive and widely available grains, fruits, nuts, olives, lentils, local fish and chicken eggs. But they also ate more expensive meat, shellfish, sea urchin and salted fish from Spain - not to mention delicacies such as giraffe meat.