Byzantine monks were unable to resist temptation

Published on January 2nd, 2013 | by Sevaan Franks

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Despite the fact that they were only supposed to subsist off of foods such as bread, water and the occasional fruits and vegetables, an analysis performed on the remains of 6th century monks who lived in Jerusalem has found that many of the monks ate a lot of animal proteins.

The ratios of various isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in the bones confirmed that the monks ate a lot of common cereals like wheat, as well as fruit and vegetables. But many bones were rich in the heavy isotope nitrogen-15, suggesting the monks ate lots of animal protein. That could mean meat, or dairy products such as cheese

"The rules on issues such as poverty, chastity and obedience were certainly known and could not be easily ignored," says Peter Hatlie of the University of Dallas's Rome Program in Frattocchie, Italy. "Only fallen, weak, mad and demonic monks ate meat."

[Full story] Story: New Scientist | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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