Bon Appetit Wednesday! Sweet and Easy Corn on the Cob

17653-two-color-corn-pvNutritious, abundant and perfect for use in a multitude of dishes, corn has been a staple in the diets of Native North American and Mesoamerican diets for thousands of years. Today, in honor of a recent archaeological find in South Dakota (US) of 1,000 year old kernels and cobs, we’re bringing you a recipe for delicious corn on the cob that highlights its golden perfection. First, some history.

You may be surprised to learn that the yellow kernel we’ve come to know and love doesn’t actually grow anywhere in the wild. Domestication of modern maize began about 9,000 years ago in the Central Balsas River Valley of southern Mexico.[1] Its ancient wild relative is a grass called Balsas teosinte.[2]

The most impressive aspect of the maize story is what it tells us about the capabilities of agriculturalists 9,000 years ago. These people were living in small groups and shifting their settlements seasonally. Yet they were able to transform a grass with many inconvenient, unwanted features into a high-yielding, easily harvested food crop. The domestication process must have occurred in many stages over a considerable length of time as many different, independent characteristics of the plant were modified.[3]

Once the maize had been cultivated, it quickly became a dietary staple. It was eventually used in many different ways, but researchers believe the very first method of cooking both wild and cultivated corn was by popping.[4] For a fascinating history of popcorn, specifically in the Aztec culture, check out our blog post, Bon Appetit Wednesday! Time to Break Out the Aztec Chocolate Caramel Popcorn.

Before you start popping, try this oh-so-simple, but incredibly delicious Sweet and Easy Corn on the Cob. It allows the flavors of the tiny yellow kernels to come alive and delight your taste buds without the interference of a bunch of other ingredients. And while you’re eating, take a second to thank the “pioneer geneticists for their skill and patience.”[5]

Jamie’s Sweet and Easy Corn on the Cob

Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 6 ears of corn on the cob, husks and silk removed

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot about 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in sugar and lemon juice, dissolving the sugar.
  3. Gently place ears of corn into boiling water, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let the corn cook in the hot water until tender, about 10 minutes.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/science/25creature.html?_r=0

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4]http://www.popcorn.org/EncyclopediaPopcornica/WelcometoPopcornica/HistoryofPopcorn/tabid/106/Default.asp

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/science/25creature.html?_r=0

Khaled al-Asaad and the Price of Memory

AN Forum

The murder by ISIS of Khaled al-Asaad, 82, a renowned Syrian archaeologist and scholar, was a heinous act. His death is a blow to Syria and the world’s cultural heritage.

Tadmor, Syria: the scene of the theater of Palmyra

Tadmor, Syria: the scene of the theater of Palmyra

What possesses a person to cleave so to an ideal that he would give up his own life? As social media spread the details of Asaad’s death, there was sincere horror and disgust at the price of his refusal to disclose where Palmyra’s antiquities had been hidden. Asaad, with more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, along with other officials, had spirited away many of the artifacts that undoubtedly would have ended up being sold on the black market, fetching the high prices that fuel ISIS’ activities.

How many of us have something we cherish? Maybe it’s a photo of a deceased parent, a child’s playful curl of hair, a tattered movie stub from a first date, a vintage car, an heirloom, an award for a hard-won achievement—the list goes on, personally, meaningfully, for each of us. Our lives are shaped by our memories of the past and the memories that we forge every day.

Asaad cherished Palmyra as his treasure, and more importantly, as the world’s treasure. He died not for a pile of old stones or statues, but for the collective history of mankind that is being systematically destroyed in his country. His death is not just a blow to archaeologists or those who appreciate antiquity. It is a blow to everyone who understands how this man carried history on his shoulders. He gave his life so that a piece of our collective history, our shared experience on this earth, could survive senseless brutality.

Ideologues are absolute in their beliefs and actions. A primary reason is fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear that power will be stripped away. Absent a cohesive agenda for sustaining change, they turn to violence as a way to subdue and impose their world view. Of course ancient lives don’t matter to them, and of course the remnants of these previous civilizations are dangerous reminders of a heritage that preceded them. A heritage they may never attain, in fact. So obliterating these sites ensures that the world knows that history doesn’t influence the present. Memory is futile.

Asaad understood the value of memory. For those who appreciate past civilizations, it is not an esoteric enterprise. It is one that is of a higher calling, one that sees in the wide sweep of humanity the threads of connectedness:  glories and tragedies, wisdom and ignorance, the best and very worst of humankind. Asaad gave his life clinging to the remembered heritage of his country. He knew, even if others did not, that these treasures drew from the soul of Syria. In a world often oblivious to the demise of our archaeological legacy, Asaad showed us the power of memory as he lived it.  AntiquityNOW honors him and the gift of his vision for Syria and for all the places around the world echoing lives past.

For more on this story, read The Guardian article “Beheaded Syrian scholar refused to lead Isis to hidden Palmyra antiquities.”

Summer Reading Recap: Mesopotamia and the Middle East

ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

It’s time to head back to school and if you’re a teacher that means decorating your classroom and finishing up your lesson plans. We’re here to help you out with free resources on ancient Mesopotamia and the Middle East. From math and science to art and literature, these ancient cultures continue to fascinate and enchant.

For a look at how the ancient Mesopotamian and Middle Eastern cultures influence our present and future, check out our blog posts:

MESOPOTAMIA:

THE MIDDLE EAST:

For an overview of ancient Mesopotamia and the Middle East, also visit our partner Ancient History Encyclopedia’s site:

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Recipes for Winter in the Southern Hemisphere

winter magicIn the southern hemisphere, the cold days of winter are slowly giving way to warmer weather. Soon sweaters and scarves will be replaced by bathing suits and sunglasses, but for now, let’s indulge in a few cozy, warming culinary treats. Gather your friends and family, curl up by a warm fire and enjoy these ancient recipes.

Summer Reading Recap: Asia

A kneeling crossbowman from the Terracotta Army assembled for the tomb complex of Qin Shi Huang (r. 221–210 BC)

A kneeling crossbowman from the Terracotta Army assembled for the tomb complex of Qin Shi Huang (r. 221–210 BC)

We’ve reached the end of August and school is nearly back in session. Whether you’re a student, teacher or parent it’s not too late for a refresher on ancient Asian history. We’re bringing you a selection of blog posts and links illustrating the beauty and richness of ancient Asiatic cultures as well as their continuing influence today.

And don’t miss our free curriculum, “Yesterday’s Child: The Tale of Yong and Bao, Learning About the Life and Legacy of China’s First Emperor,” which includes a free children’s book, lesson plan, resources, activities and more! Continue reading

Summer Reading Recap: Greece

Parthenon-2008_entzerrtFor those of you returning to school this September, today we’re bringing you up to speed on ancient Greece. Make sure you’re the first one to raise your hand this year when the teacher says, “Where is the birthplace of Western philosophy?” Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Recipes for Summer in the Northern Hemisphere

Dandelion_sunIn the northern hemisphere, summer is quickly coming to an end and we’re all clinging to these last lazy days. Soon all the picnics and barbecues and summer repasts will be just memories. But let’s dally, culinary wise. Here’s a list of ancient recipes for the modern palate that will help you celebrate the warmth and sunshine just a little bit longer. Continue reading

Summer Reading Recap: Rome

colloseumSummer is winding down and kids are heading back to school. There are supplies to organize, bags to pack and school clothes to buy. But you also want to make sure they are ready to reboot from a long summer. We at AntiquityNOW are here to help. For the next two weeks we’re highlighting select cultures with a list of blog posts and links to help your child brush up on the ancient past and its enduring legacy today. Continue reading

Strata: Portraits of Humanity, Episode 10, “In and Near Istanbul” and “The Mountain Wars of Fiji”

StrataImage-webTwo new features in the video news-magazine series Strata:  Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute, examine the complex elements of a culture’s past that continue to influence modern times.

“In and near Istanbul” tours the region surrounding Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, including the storied capitol city Istanbul, which is renowned for its visible reminders of antiquity.  This is an archaeological and historical wonderland that draws visitors from all over the world.  “The Mountain Wars of Fiji” relates a horrifying piece of Fijian history. Across the islands of Fiji, hilltop fortresses tell a tale of a warfare and cannibalism going back a thousand years, when the war gods demanded tribute or revenge.  Yet people have been on these islands far longer and things have not always been the same. Continue reading

It’s World Elephant Day!

Elephants holding trunksCelebrate this very remarkable and very ancient denizen of the wild with AntiquityNOW. Go to the links below to see how you can help save this species in peril. Continue reading