December 28, 2012

“Only fallen, weak, mad and demonic monks ate meat.”

Filed under: Public Health — acagle @ 9:39 am

Urban Byzantine monks gave in to temptation

WHO ate all the pies? In 6th-century Jerusalem, the Byzantine monks were greedy gobblers – despite strict rules that they should eat mainly bread and water.

Most early Byzantine monasteries were located in remote deserts, but St Stephen’s monastery thrived in Jerusalem. Wondering how urban living affected the monks, Lesley Gregoricka at the University of South Alabama in Mobile took bone samples from 55 skeletons buried under the monastery.

There’s a paper on it but I haven’t read it yet (I should). I’m not sure what the exact rules were regarding dietary restrictions, but I kind of doubt any diet based solely on bread and water would have lasted very long as everybody would have been dying of malnutrition.

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