The Bountiful Sea | Fish processing and consumption in Mediterranean antiquity
- Registration now open -
6-8 September 2017
Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, University of Oxford
From discussion of EU fishing policy and the health benefits of fish oil, to concern over the environmental impact of aquaculture, it seems fish are constantly in the news – and rightly so. Decreases in fish stocks, new government policies, and even changes in taste can lead to the rise and fall of entire industries and the communities that rely on them. Classical antiquity witnessed many challenges that we would recognise today – population expansion, mass migration, border disputes, and over exploitation of resources. Like us, the Roman Empire processed and consumed fish on an industrial scale. How did ancient cultures shape the modern seas? What can past industries tell us about the present?
The Bountiful Sea conference will gather archaeologists, scientists, cooks, and classical scholars to discuss new evidence for fish exploitation and new perspectives on the manufacture, transport, and consumption of fish-based products in Mediterranean antiquity.
The Bountiful Sea’s academic programme will bring together specialists from across Europe, North America, and the Near East to investigate key areas of fish eating (production, processing, trade, consumption) as well as the potential of state-of-the-art scientific methods. Overall, the meeting aims to 1) demonstrate the potential of different types of evidence for the study of Mediterranean fish processing, 2) encourage interdisciplinary discussion and the integration of different lines of research, and 3) present novel methods for future investigation of fish exploitation. As such, the meeting will have a broad geographic scope that encompasses the entire Mediterranean.
>>> Download the conference programme.
Guy Bar-Oz, Emmanuel Botte, Cristina Carusi, Oliver Craig, Sónia Gabriel, Nicolas Garnier, Ayelet Gilboa, Sally Grainger, Carl Heron, Omri Lernau, Benedict Lowe, Ephraim Lytle, Annalisa Marzano, Arturo Morales-Muñiz, Dimitra Mylona, Rebecca Nicholson, Andreas Pack, Efi Ragia, Kristine Korzow Richter, Mark Robinson, Guy Sisma-Ventura, Dorit Sivan, Tatiana Theodoropoulou, Athena Trakadas, Thomas Tütken, Susan Weingarten, John Wilkins, Irit Zohar
Call for Posters
The Bountiful Sea welcomes posters on all aspects of fishing, fish processing, and fish consumption, as well as related marine industries and inland fish production (e.g. dye production, mollusc farming, fish ponds, salt, corals, etc.). Ethnographic and relevant ecological research is also welcome. These complimentary industries were frequently associated with fish processing, and understanding them is key to contextualising marine resource exploitation. The conference will leave plenty of time for discussion and debate, and all types of presentations, both oral and poster contributions will be published. Please send post titles and abstracts to Dimitra Mylona (firstname.lastname@example.org), including the preferred titles, names, and affiliation of all the authors. The deadline for posters is 5th May 2017.
How can we understand ancient fish and fish products if we never experience them ourselves?
The Bountiful Sea meeting will include an innovative culinary programme that invites participants to engage with Roman fish products and fish-based dishes. Demonstrations and tastings will showcase Roman flavours and offer researchers new insight into how fish products were made.
Roman Fish Feast
Following the keynote lecture on taste and texture, The Bountiful Sea will open with a Roman seafood tasting dinner, featuring re-created sumptuous Roman dishes drawn from historical sources - a chance to try the best of Apicus, Cicero’s favourite saltfish frittata, and (of course) garum! Accompanied by salads, Roman bread, and white wine from the Bay of Naples.
>>> View a sample menu.
Fish Sauce Demonstrations
Explanation of the art and science behind Roman fish fermentation and presentation of re-created sauces. Taste fish-based dips and condiments using these ingredients.
Participants are invited to bring traditional preserved fish from their regions, which will be presented and shared with the re-created Roman sauces during the evening reception.
The conference's Opening Evening will host a keynote lecture followed by our Roman Fish Feast. The academic sessions will take place over the two subsequent days (Thursday 7 – Friday 8 September), followed by receptions in the evenings. The Thursday reception (7 September) will follow a fish sauce demonstation and include tastings of fish sauces and Mediterranean fish-based products.
Wednesday 6 September | Opening Evening
Keynote lecture by John Wilkens (University of Exeter)
Cooking and processing fish in antiquity: questions of taste and texture
Our keynote speaker will discuss a range of topics pertinent to the theme of the conference: fishermen and fish supplies, the discourse of luxury, processing and salting, taste and texture in fish, the favoured parts of the fish, and the medical impact of fresh versus salted fish.
The talk will be followed by a short drinks reception before adjourning to the Ashmolean Museum's Randolph Sculpture Gallery, where participants will reinforce their new knowledge by experiencing the taste and texture of ancient fish recipes for themselves.
Thursday 7 September
Full day of academic papers followed by a wine reception and fish sauce tasting.
Friday 8 September
Full day academic papers. Short reception following.
>>> Download the conference programme.
There are two registration options:
1) Registration for the complete academic and culinary programme (Wednesday 6 - Friday 8 September) - £100 / £72
Including keynote lecture, Roman fish tasting dinner, academic sessions, sauce tastings, receptions, lunch
2) Registration for the opening evening events only (Wednesday 6 September) - £72
Keynote lecture, reception, Roman fish tasting dinner
All are welcome, and we hope these flexible options promote attendance by a diverse range of academics, specialists, and general enthusiasts who might not otherwise be able to join us for the complete 3-day programme.
Travel & Accomodation
Participants can find information on how to best reach Oxford on the University's website: here. If you are travelling by car please note the section on parking; there is very little parking in central Oxford, and it is advisable to use a park-and-ride or travel by another method.
For those staying in Oxford, colleges provide good value, centrally located B&B rooms: here.
For further information about the event or to join the mailing list, please get in touch with the organisers.
Oxford Roman Economy Project,
University of Oxford
Institute for Aegean Prehistory,
Study Center for East Crete
Independent scholar &
author of The Classical Cookbook
Andrew K. G. Jones
University of York
The Bountiful Sea is made possible through the generous support of: