Pumpkins in North America are ubiquitous this time of year, and they are no more evident than on Halloween, when they are on display carved with frightening faces to ward off evil spirits. But did you know that in the Middle Ages in Europe, as a pagan vestige against the growing wave of Christianity, hideously carved turnips were the vegetable of choice to spook the spirits?
Fact or Fiction?
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As the conversion to Christianity took root in the Middle Ages, pagan influences remained, which was the case with Halloween. It was believed that spirits roamed freely on this fateful night. Turnips were carved in the form of demons to keep evil spirits away. Since the pumpkin was more abundant in America, it became the much more colorful and rotund symbol of nefarious spirits as the Halloween tradition crossed the pond.
Click here to learn more about historic Halloween traditions and to read a scary story about a ghost hunter.
Ancient mosaic in an Egyptian burial tomb, circa 1400 BCE.
It’s National Seafood Month in the U.S., and when it comes to ancient eats, you can’t get more ancient than seafood. The bounty of the oceans has sustained mankind since prehistoric times. In fact, analysis of the lower mandible of a 40,000-year-old human skeleton, found in the Tianyuan Cave near Beijing, found the man ate fish regularly. We also have ample archaeological evidence from the Paleolithic period including shell middens, discarded fish bones and even petroglyphs and cave paintings that prove humans have been enjoying seafood since before recorded history began.
So today we’re bringing you some Bon Appetit Wednesday recipes that will help you to celebrate National Seafood Month in ancient style. Each recipe is accompanied by a bit of history of the dish and its ingredients. Cook up a seafood feast for your family and friends and then dazzle them with your knowledge of the ancient past!
 First direct evidence of substantial fish consumption by early modern humans in China. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2015.
It’s that time of year again that with frissons of delight we delve into the dark world of ghosts and goblins. And again we turn to author P J Hodge as he takes us on a tale of trauma and memory in the English countryside. His stories often draw from ancient themes that transcend time and culture, where the dimensions of existence blur between this world and what lies beyond. Continue reading
Posted in Blog, Culture, Engineering, Holidays, Literature, Public Life, Science Fiction
Tagged ancient history, AntiquityNOW, aqueduct, ghost stories, ghost story, Roman aqueducts, scary stories, scary story, viaduct
What words best describe Halloween? Spooky? Scary? Terrifying? Like many of us, you probably like to be scared. Well, this Halloween we’re giving you the chance to really strut your creative stuff. You get to write your own tale of terror. But we at AntiquityNOW are giving you a challenge. We’re providing you the beginnings and endings of stories, which means you pick one beginning and one ending to bookend your story. And—drum roll—you must include an element of ancient history in your story. Just look around at today’s books and movies. How many have to do with time travel to an ancient place, an artifact that has magical powers or a mystery that had its origins in Ancient Egypt or Rome or Mesopotamia? The distant past is filled with possibilities for storytelling. Continue reading
Posted in Blog, Culture, Kids Blog, Kids: Culture, Kids: Literature, Literature
Tagged ancient history, ancient scary stories, ancient writing, AntiquityNOW, education, Halloween, Halloween activity, scary story, storytelling activity, writing
Yesterday was National Coffee Day in the United States, but we’re hardly the originators of good coffee. So we’re bringing you a recipe for the perfect ancient Turkish coffee, a drink that is not only delicious and full of energy, but according to recent studies, is also a healthy addition to your day. Greek researchers have discovered that “consumption of a boiled type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function,” or cardiovascular health. Continue reading
Posted in Blog, Bon Appetit Wednesday, Culinary, Culture
Tagged ancient coffee, ancient food, ancient history, ancient recipes, AntiquityNOW, boiled coffee, Bon Appetit Wednesday, history of coffee, history of coffee bean, Recipes with a Past, Turkish coffee
Today is the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. The days are getting shorter, the temperature is beginning to drop and we’re all preparing for snuggling up in sweaters and long nights by the fire. Many ancient cultures around the world celebrated the autumnal equinox and several of these traditions have been passed down through the ages. Continue reading
Posted in Blog, Bon Appetit Wednesday, Culinary, Culture
Tagged ancient apples, ancient food, ancient recipes, AntiquityNOW, apple pie, autumnal equinox, Bon Appetit Wednesday, fall equinox, Mabon, Samhain
Three new features in the video news-magazine series Strata: Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute, examine how the past continues to inspire us today.
“James Madison Slave Quarters” looks at the reconstruction of the South Yard, the slave quarters at the fourth U.S. president’s mansion, which marks the beginning of a new chapter at Montpelier and the history that unfolds. “Iron Age Mirror” depicts a beautiful mirror found by a metal detectorist in Oxfordshire, UK. It is a remarkable piece of craftmanship used more than 2,000 years ago. “HMS Fowey Shipwreck” reveals the story of the British frigate that struck a coral reef and sank in 1748, coming to rest within the boundaries of Biscayne National Park. The National Park Service conducted underwater excavations on the site. Continue reading
Posted in Architecture, Blog, Culture, Public Life, Science and Technology, Strata Curricula
Tagged ancient mirror, AntiquityNOW, Archaeological Legacy Institute, British frigate, HMS Fowey, Iron Age, James Madison, mirror, Montpelier, shipwreck, slave quarters, Strata Portraits of Humanity, The Archaeology Channel
Sunday was National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day, but don’t worry, it’s not too late to celebrate. What better way to recognize the day than to cook up some recipes with a past? We’re bringing you an array of tasty dishes that are perfect for your kiddos to test their skills in the kitchen. But first, click here to take a walk through an ancient Roman kitchen, and then get ready to cook and enjoy a meal just like the ancients. Below, you’ll find a recipe for every course, each from a different part of the ancient world. Continue reading