Food Processing and Preparation

Robert I. Curtis

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Food Processing and Preparation

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Marriage and the Family



This article describes the processing and preparation of Greco-Roman food. There are several reasons why plant and animal products underwent processing. The processing of cereals, namely barley and wheat, using milling technology is first covered. Innovation in pressing technology for grape and olive processing is also addressed. Greeks and Romans consumed many vegetables, types of fruit and nut. They preserved grapes and olives by various methods for short- and long-term storage. Finally, the article considers the process of obtaining animal by-products. Innovation and invention in Greco-Roman food processing tended go in two directions. The first trend led to more efficient, labor-saving machines requiring fewer operators per unit of output. The second trend in Greco-Roman food processing brought increased availability of food to a larger number of consumers and contributed to economic growth. Invention and innovation in food technology brought significant benefits to inhabitants of the Greco-Roman world.

Keywords: milling; pressing; barley; wheat; grape; oil; vegetables; fruit; nut; animal by-products

Article.  10388 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Marriage and the Family

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