The sudden increase in wealth, power and status that comes with being king would, presumably, involve some dietary changes to favor fancier foods as well. Now, scientific analysis of King Richard III's bones confirmed that the last Plantagenet king of Britain had a taste for more expensive delicacies.
The British Geological Survey with researchers at the University of Leicester conducted forensic analysis of Richard III's remains, which were found last year under a parking lot in Leicester.
Teeth in the skull said to belong to King Richard III were analyzed along with other bones to determine how his diet changed over his life. (Image source: University of Leicester via British Geological Survey)
The team conducted isotope analysis on some of the body's bone and teeth, learning about the shift in Richard III's diet from his early life into his kingship.
"The chemistry of Richard III’s teeth and bones reveal changes in his geographical movements, diet and social status throughout his life," Geochemist Angela Lamb said in a statement.
Richard III's teeth provided context of what his diet was like in childhood, because they form earlier in life, according to the British Geological Survey. His femur indicated that as a young adult he had an aristocratic diet, while his rib, which the news release stated would be representative of the last two to five years of life, showed the largest change in what he ate.
Visitors examine a replica of the skeleton of King Richard III, created using 3D printing, displayed in the new visitor's centre on the site where his remains were discovered, in Leicester, central England, on July 24, 2014. The center tells the story of his rise to power, his death in battle and the discovery of his bones, as well as raising questions on how his disability should be portrayed in theatre and film. Exhibits include a remarkably detailed facial reconstruction, and a replica of Richards skeleton that clearly shows his curved spine, as well as his battle injuries, including the fatal blow. (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
The rib revealed he enjoyed a diet rich in freshwater fish and birds and also indicated he was drinking more wine.
"The recent discovery of the remains of King Richard III, one of the most controversial characters in British history, provides an opportunity to use scientific methods to assess conflicting historical and literary descriptions of his life," the study authors wrote in their full analysis published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. "Our data comprise isotope results from different parts of the skeleton in order to reconstruct a life history of his diet, exposure to pollution and geographical movements.
"Most significantly, we demonstrate a substantial shift in his bone isotope values towards the end of his life. As we are dealing with an individual with known provenance and with, in parts, a detailed documentation of his diet and location we can test and extend our interpretations of skeletal isotope analysis," the authors continued. "The isotope changes evident between Richard's femur and rib bones, when assessed against historical documentations, suggest a significant increase in feasting and wine consumption in his later years. This is the first example where the intake of wine has been suggested as having an impact on the oxygen isotope composition of an individual and thus has wider implications for isotope-based archaeology."
Though the skeleton of Richard III is still being examined by scientists, the university announced that he would have a formal reinternment in March 2015 in a tomb at the Leicester Cathedral.
(H/T: PhysOrg via Reddit)