Harvard Anthropology Seminar Series (Archaeology), Vicki Moses, Harvard Reich Lab
Ancient Rome was one of the world’s most successful superpowers at its height, but its beginnings were modest—just one of many small hamlets dotting the landscape in western central Italy. Rome transformed during the 9th-6th centuries BCE from a collection of huts in the Early Iron Age into a substantial center by the end of the Archaic Period. The urban restructuring of Rome reflects broader processes such as changing social roles, built landscape, economy, and religious practices. This presentation uses zooarchaeology to show how urbanism affected Roman foodways in the newly built urban landscape. The faunal data subvert two common assumptions about Rome’s foundational period, which are that Romans began eating more pork, establishing the “Roman” diet, and that the strict Roman religious framework was formulated. Instead, the data show that these major components of the shared Roman identity were not established during Rome’s initial urbanization. Foodways and religious practices instead were conserved from earlier periods during this time that was otherwise social transformative.
Vicki Moses is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Harvard’s Science of the Human Past Initiative and Max Planck-Harvard Archaeosciences of the Ancient Mediterranean. In this position, she is working with Harvard’s History Department and the Reich Lab to research ancient DNA in the Classical World.
Vicki has done zooarchaeological research primarily in the Mediterranean, including Rome, Pompeii, Sicily, and Calabria, as well as Tunisia and Greece. She received her PhD from the University of Arizona School of Anthropology in 2020, where she received awards such as a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant and two-year Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. More recently, she received the AIA-NEH Archaeological Research grant to study isotope values from animal remains in Iron Age and Archaic Rome. Her zooarchaeological research is published in journals such as Antiquity, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, and the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.