Ancient Roman Packed Lunches

This month the British Museum plays host to its Lunchtime Through the Ages exhibit, which includes a genuine medieval pork pie, Greek butter spreading implements and a selection of 18th century French baguettes previously on display in Versailles. However, the centrepiece of the exhibit will be the remains of a Roman packed lunch that was unearthed at Vindolanda in 1972.

"This find was of momentous importance for scholars, as it gave us a vivid insight into the everyday life of a Roman centurion - his outlook on the world, his lifestyle and, most importantly, his lunch," explains curator Professor Max Hadrian.

The meal, neatly packed in a small wooden box, was partly consumed, leading some people to speculate that it was abandoned because of an attack or due to some sudden emergency. Professor Hadrian disagrees.

"If you look at what remains I think it paints a familiar picture," he says. "There is a scotch egg - untouched - the empty wrapper from some kind of cake or sweet biscuit and a half consumed cheese sandwich. This, of course, is entirely consistent with what you might expect to find in any lunchbox today and is not so much a symptom of an unexpected interruption, but more indicative of a fussy eater."

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