This work package will be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Julie Dunne. It is the first of three specialist studies used to a) address key dietary questions and b) test the viability of new scientific methodologies in an early modern context.
ORA involves the investigation of absorbed fats extracted from potsherds which help in reconstructing past diets and animal management practices, and although its use has been increasing in other contexts, in Ireland, it is associated exclusively with studies of Neolithic diet.
This approach is particularly appropriate to early modern Ireland, because of the abundance of recently excavated pottery for testing, but also as it is ideally placed to address key questions relative to Irish food history:
a) the relative role of meat v dairy
b) the nature of trade networks (e.g. possible identification of resins)
c) changes in the material culture of food (e.g. evidence of commodification and vessel specialisation)
Analysis will be undertaken for a range of comparative sites identified by the team in the Mapping Diet work package.
This is the first large scale ORA study of ‘historical’ pottery in any context, and in addition to shedding light on Irish foodways, will have considerable academic impact in the scientific field.