Food consumption at the Oude Mannenhuis: Archaeobotanical cesspit analysis of an early modern Old Men’s Home Delft, the Netherlands

Hondelink, M., 7-Sep-2018.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

In 2005 a rescue excavation was carried out at the Voldersgracht 21, situated in Delft, the Netherlands. Here, the foundations of the Oude Mannenhuis (Old Men’s Home) were discovered. It was founded in 1411 and stayed in use until the end of the 18th century. The presence of stoneware, porcelain, glass and metal objects in the excavated cesspits indicate that the elderly men living in this Oude Mannenhuis were not poor, though not extremely wealthy either. Each individual had his own room including a private cesspit. All cesspits under study show finds concerning food preparation, such as (small) cooking pots and pans, and many seeds, fruits and zoo-archaeological remains. In order to understand what the inhabitants of the Oude Mannenhuis ate and how this changed in the course of time, we analysed the archaeobotanical remains from ten cesspits, dated between 1400-1700. The residue after wet sieving included an abundance of waterlogged edible plant remains, as well as some mineralized and charred seeds and fruits. We found the bulk of the residue consisted of different fruit species, though a variety of cereals, herbs, vegetables and spices were also present. A potential shift in diet, following the emergence and integration of new food items due to an increased global trade market, cannot be recognized based on the macro-archaeobotanical analyses. Even during the Dutch Golden Age, when prices for exotic food items fell and became affordable to the middle classes, the occupants seem to have had a preference for foodstuffs that had been consumed for decades and even centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7-Sep-2018


  • Archaeobotany, History, Delft, Diet

ID: 65018387