London: Vegetarianism was pretty much common among ancient Egyptian cultures, with their diet largely consisting of wheat and barley, scientists say.
Although previous sources found the ancient Egyptians to be vegetarians, it was not possible to find out the relative amounts of the different foods they ate until now.
A French research team analysed the carbon atoms in mummies that had lived in Egypt between 3500 BC and 600 AD to find out what they ate, Inside Science News Service (ISNS) reported.
"We worked a lot with bones and teeth, while most researchers study hair, collagen and proteins," said Alexandra Touzeau, who led the research team at the University of Lyon.
"We also worked on many different periods, with not many individuals for each period, so we could cover a very long time span," Touzeau said.
Researchers found that Ancient Egyptians, as is the case with many modern people, had a diet that was wheat- and barley-based.
The team concluded that C4 cereals, like millet and sorghum, were only a minor part of the diet, less than 10 per cent.
"We found that the diet was constant over time; we had expected changes," said Touzeau.
This showed that the ancient Egyptians adapted well to the environment while the Nile region became increasingly arid between 3500 BC and 600 AD.