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Richard III ruled England for just two years and two months before he was killed in battle in 1485 at age 32. Yet during his short time wearing the crown, Richard certainly ate like a king, a new study finds.
Wine flowed generously at King Richard's table, and plates of game birds and fresh fish were plentiful, according to an analysis of his teeth and bones, published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Aug. 16.
Excavators from the University of Leicester who found Richard’s skeleton in a grave under a parking lot in Leicester, England, sent samples of his teeth, femur and ribs to Jane Evans, a research scientist with the British Geological Survey. The analysis of Richard's rib bone showed a significant shift in the values of nitrogen and oxygen isotopes late in Richard's life, Evans said.
Higher concentrations of certain nitrogen isotopes are a sign of a diet rich in animals that have a relatively high place in the food web. Oxygen isotopes, meanwhile, reflect the chemistry of the local drinking water. Historical records suggest Richard lived exclusively in eastern England at the end of his life, so Evans and colleagues attributed an oxygen change in Richard's rib to his increased consumption of wine.