Workers dig at an excavation site near Jerusalem. Workers dig at an excavation site near Jerusalem. Workers dig at an excavation site near Jerusalem. (Photo: GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)

Archaeologists reveal what some of our ancestors ate for dinner

A new dig made some fascinating discoveries about the menus of a 2,000-year-old civilization.

Thanks to a huge discovery in Jerusalem, we now know what members of an ancient Mediterranean civilization ate for dinner.

A massive archaeological dig at the site of an ancient landfill in Israel turned up thousands of animal bones believed to have come from sheep and goats, Tel Aviv University archaeologists said. In all, 12,000 bones were found, and they were able to identify 5,000 of them. They also found smaller amounts of chicken and cow bones, in addition to remnants of figs and dates.

Archaeologists at the site of an ancient landfill in Jerusalem.Archaeologists at the site of an ancient landfill in Jerusalem. (Photo: Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

They concluded that ancient Jerusalemites most likely subsisted on modest (not high-end) cuts of meat from sheep and goats, with some wholesome figs and dates on the side.

They published their findings recently in the Tel Aviv Journal of the Institute of Archaeology, calling the discovery "the largest assemblage of fauna published from Jerusalem."

In addition to providing insight into what ancient Jerusalemites ate, the research also shed light on how they disposed of their food waste. "The study demonstrates that garbage was dispatched to the city dump in an organized manner," the researchers wrote.

So now that we know what they ate for dinner, we can have fun imagining what they paired with their meaty meals. Perhaps a bottle of the finest red from a nearby 1,600-year-old winery discovered a couple of years ago under the site of a new apartment complex?

Workers huddle over parts of an ancient winery recently discovered in Jerusalem.Workers huddle over parts of an ancient winery recently discovered in Jerusalem. (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

"Once again, Jerusalem demonstrates that wherever one turns over a stone, ancient artifacts will be found related to the city’s glorious past," said Alex Wiegmann, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, which helped with both the recent animal bone excavation and the winery discovery in 2015.

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