Throwback Thursday! Beer Archaeology?! Yes, please.

Travis Rupp has the coolest job. He is a self-proclaimed “beer archaeologist” and I want to hang out with him. Obviously, at AntiquityNOW, we think archaeology is pretty fascinating. Digging up ancient toilets? Sign us up. Excavating an ancient village? We’re there. Meticulously and tediously removing the dust from a single ancient coin? We’d love to help. But, not everyone finds the past so exciting. However, we’re willing to bet, nearly everyone can agree there is something amazing and fun about recreating the drinks of the past. Who doesn’t want to cheers with a Viking-inspired beer or raise a glass of “Beersheba” from ancient Israel? Check out this article from NPR for all of the delicious details about Rupp and his quest for antiquity’s most fabulous brews: Beer Archaeologists Are Reviving Ancient Ales — With Some Strange Results.

And don’t miss our very own article about ancient beer. Did you know “ancient history reveals that, as far back as 4,000 years ago (and probably further), brewing was done primarily by women?” True story. Learn more here.

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Einkorn Banana Bread and the Tale of a 5,300 Year Old Mummy

For those of you who haven’t heard of einkorn wheat, you’re at least 9,500 years behind the curve. Einkorn is the world’s oldest cereal and “nature’s original wheat.”1  

The Fertile Crescent in the Middle East is aptly known as the Cradle of Civilization, an area recognized for such innovations as glass manufacturing, writing and the wheel. It’s also where agriculture first began, and the first written recording in 7,500 BCE of einkorn being planted as a domesticated crop.

Einkorn flourished as a staple crop for centuries. It was hardy and could grow in poor soil, similar to other ancient grains such as smelt and emmer.  Research shows that einkorn cultivation spread across the Middle East, Europe and into Russia. In fact, agriculture where grain production was central was one of the propelling forces that caused cities to form and great civilizations to grow as people became less nomadic. Over time einkorn evolved into a popular and versatile food that knew no social class. Even the pharaohs ate einkorn. However, during the Bronze Age einkorn production declined in favor of grains that were more prolific and easier to harvest.  But a surprising twentieth century discovery revived interest in the wheat and put the grain at the center of a 5,300 year old cold case (to employ modern crime nomenclature and, as you will see, a shameless pun).

Naturalistic reconstruction of Ötzi – South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

In September 1991 two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simon, discovered a mummified body protruding from a melting glacier as they were hiking in the Italian Alps. Found in the Otzal Alps and dubbed Otzi the Iceman, he became the “best preserved prehistoric man discovered with his own equipment and clothing.”2. The find was remarkable for a number of reasons. He was determined to be Europe’s oldest mummy dating back to 3,300 BCE. He was in his everyday clothing carrying hunting and other tools, as opposed to being buried in a tomb with ceremonial dress and accompanying funereal objects as is so often the case with human remains. He sported visible tattoos on his body. He represents a moment in time of an ordinary life lived five millennia ago. Moreover, he is the “oldest intact human ever found. With the exception of missing toenails, all but one fingernail and an outer layer of skin, the Iceman is otherwise perfectly reserved.”3

Otzi had more secrets to give up. Scientists were able to determine his last meal. It was a serving of meat, an herb…and yes, bread made from finely ground einkorn.4

As to what caused Otzal’s death, it appears he was shot in the left shoulder with an arrow according to Swiss scientists who conducted multi-slice CT scans of the body. An artery must have been damaged and he bled to death, his body frozen until discovered centuries later. Definitely a cold case, with no culprit to be found.

It is interesting to note how in death Otzi has achieved his own kind of immortality. Otzi fever descended across the world in 1991 as word spread of this remarkable find.

After Otzi was discovered the world became caught up in Iceman mania. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine and other major publications. T-shirts and jewelry were sold with his sunken eyes beaming out. Pop songs were written about him. A German astrologer announced she was writing a book about her seánces with the Iceman. Other women clamored to be the first to be impregnated with sperm from Ötzi’s testicles. Mitochondrial DNA was extracted from Otzi’s bones. A company called Oxford Ancestors, for a fee, will compare your DNA with Otzi’s to see if you are related.5

Apparently, Otzi has that special something that neither time nor temperature can tamp down.

But let’s return to our discussion of einkorn. It also has a lineage that is remarkable. Due to the fact that einkorn wheat fell into disuse for centuries, the wheat itself has not been altered from its original state of 12,000 years ago. No hybrid, mutated or contaminated versions exist. Just einkorn as nature’s oldest and purest wheat. Today it claims credit for being a superfood. And there’s another bonus. Because it hasn’t been genetically altered, and due to its gluten structure that lacks certain high molecular weight glutenins that are present in other types of wheat, it is considered by some as the “good gluten.”6

So enjoy the taste of an ancient grain in the recipe that follows. As with all our Bon Appetit recipes, there is history in every bite.

1http://www.ancientgrains.com/einkorn-history-and-origin/

2 http://factsanddetails.com/world/cat56/sub362/item1496.html

3Ibid

4 https://www.einkorn.com/otzi-the-icemans-last-meal-included-einkorn-wheat-bread/

5 http://factsanddetails.com/world/cat56/sub362/item1496.html

6 https://jovialfoods.com/einkorn/a-good-gluten/

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.einkorn.com/einkorn-history/

RELATED

https://antiquitynow.org/2015/08/12/bon-appetit-wednesday-enjoy-another-ancient-grain-with-einkorn-flour-pancakes/

https://antiquitynow.org/2015/03/11/bon-appetit-wednesday-ezekiel-bread/

 

Einkorn Flour Banana Bread

Recipe courtesy of Greg Fleischaker, Greg Fly

Cook Time 2 hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose Einkorn
  • 1 cup whole wheat sprouted Einkorn
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and move shelf to lower middle portion of the oven.
  2. Warm the butter, almost melted, and cream with the sugar in a stand mixer while measuring out the remaining ingredients.
  3. Add the peeled ripe bananas, eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the Einkorn wheat flour, baking soda and salt and mix thoroughly, batter should be thick but quite pourable.
  5. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  6. Place the pan into the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes until well. browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Two Thousand Years and the Sexual Male: The Angst That Never Changes

Romantic scene from a mosaic (Villa at Centocelle, Rome,
20 BC–20 AD)

Sexuality. Exciting, erotic, passionate, heartbreaking. Perhaps no other human behavior is so fraught with identity, especially for men. In countless cultures throughout time, the sexual male has been idealized and his prowess pivotal in terms of his place in society. Of course, there were shifting sexual mores throughout the centuries, but male sexuality largely remained a highly prized trait regardless of culture, time or geography.  Today, with the advent of modern science and psychology, we now realize that male sexuality is weighted with conflicting emotional and societal consequences. More jarring to the traditional paradigm is the fact that male sexuality and the entitlement it bestowed are now being challenged.  We have the roles of heterosexual and LGBTQ men and women as well as non-gender conforming individuals evolving in the twenty-first century to inevitably create new paradigms of identity and new ways of relating to each other.

As we see below, however, some things haven’t changed, or at least make for interesting comparisons. Two poems, written thousands of years apart, speak to the anguish of a man facing the inescapable diminishing of years and the sexuality that defined him.

The first poem is by Philodemus of Gadara (ca. 110–ca. 30 BCE), an Epicurean philosopher and epigrammatist who, having studied in the Epicurean school at Athens when it was led by Zeno of Sidon (c. 150–c. 75 BCE), moved to Italy, probably in the 70s BCE.1 The second poem was written by David Thorpe, a modern day poet and artist living in Germany who did his own lyrical turn at the notion of male identity.

*     *     *

Already more than half the pages have been torn out of the little book of my life; Look, girl, already white hairs are sprinkled on my head,

 Announcing that the age of wisdom is drawing near.

 But still all I care about is laughing and drinking and the pleasures of the night;

 Still, in my unsatisfied heart, a fire is burning.

 Oh, Muses, my guides, write an end to it: Say, This girl, this one here,

 She is the end of your madness.

                      (AP XI.41)2

Philodemus

*     *     *

Deception

The aging playboy phenomenon or Peter Pan syndrome…

The rising sun detects the moment

of the moist track of a fallen tear

before it dries,

the feeling of frustration,

manifested

on her quivering lips, 

usurped by an affected smile  

He had played his role of Casanova,

yet youth long not his ally,

his lines though not forgotten

had lost their enchantment,

their once spontaneity  

languid on a dry tongue lingered,

his performance without applause

His eyes are witnesses

as she leaves in silence,

the closing door forgetting

to take the lingering air,

pregnant with her perfume.

A deception of the night,

or rather a self-deception

 

David Thorpe ©®

 

1 https://plato.stdu/entries/philodemus/

2 http://www.writing.upenn.edu/library/McEvilley_Greek-Anthology.html

 

David Thorpe

Thorpe was born in the Yorkshire textile manufacturing town of Huddersfield, Yorkshire , England. After a career that spanned a number of industries and locations, including Venezuela and the Netherlands, he now lives in Sinsheim near Heidelberg where he writes poetry in English and Spanish and paints in oil.

“Deception” was originally published in the April 17, 2019 edition of Poetry of Spring’s Embrace.

Throwback Thursday! Ancient Advertising

When was the last time you sat through an entire commercial? Perhaps during the Super Bowl? With today’s DVR, Netflix, Hulu, etc., being forced to suffer through 3 minutes of advertising is a thing of the past. Advertisers have had to become more clever, even tricky, and some would say invasive, in order to get our attention. Now, their ads pop up on our social media feeds, web browsers and even our email. It seems we’ve dodged one type of sales pitch, only to be bombarded with dozens more! Surely this is a modern nuisance. Actually, it’s not. Check out our two part series, “How Advertising Helped Write History,” to learn all about how ancient salesmen hawked everything from olive oil to a date with a gladiator.

Throwback Thursday! KIDS’ BLOG: Rain, Rain Go Away: Ancient Weather, Modern Predictions

Subtropical Storm Andrea Released to Public: Subtropical Storm Andrea, May 8, 2007 by NASA/MODIS

Hurricane season 2019 hasn’t even begun yet and we’ve already had our first official named storm: Andrea. Sure, she came and went pretty quickly, but it was a reminder that these storms are unpredictable and they appear and disappear according to their own timetable. And yet, we must continue to try and predict when the next weather event is going to affect us. We need to know when, where and how bad is it going to be. Technological advances in meteorology have made it possible for us to look into the future and predict with more precise accuracy than our ancestors could have imagined. But for all of our fancy tech, we haven’t forgotten the importance of our past. In the blog post, KIDS’ BLOG: Rain, Rain Go Away: Ancient Weather, Modern, we explore how scientists continue to use information about our ancient weather past to learn about and better predict the storms of the future. And, because it’s a Kids’ Blog, we’ve got an awesome activity built right in to the post!

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Shrimp Avocado Salad…Courtesy of Our Ancestral Genes

A while back we posted a holiday recipe for eggnog that explained how 7,500 years or so ago, humans in the region between the central Balkans and central Europe developed “lactase persistence.” According to a study by Professor Mark Thomas of University College London (UCL) Genetics, Evolution and Environment, “Most adults worldwide do not produce the enzyme lactase and so are unable to digest the milk sugar lactose. However, most Europeans continue to produce lactase throughout their life, a characteristic known as lactase persistence. In Europe, a single genetic change (13,910*T) is strongly associated with lactase persistence and appears to have given people with it a big survival advantage.”1

Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day Graphic 2014 copy

Kneeling mother holding a child. Pre-Columbian. 600-900 CE.

Throwback Thursday! Discover Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Where do you go for information on our shared past? If you’re a history teacher looking for content and resources, which website is your favorite? History buffs, where do you go to feed your hunger for historic facts? For a growing number of people, the answer to those questions is “Ancient History Encyclopedia.” So how does a self-described “small non-profit organization” become the global leader in ancient history content online, attracting more monthly traffic than the British Museum or the Louvre? Find out in our exclusive 2015 interview with AHE Founder and CEO Jan van der Crabben and Co-founder and Communications Director James Blake Wiener.

And for a dose of history on-the-go, make sure to download their app, available on iPhone and Android platforms.

“Is It Time to Rethink Our Ideas About Preserving World Heritage?” A Provocative Question in Dire Times

AN Forum

A recent New York Times opinion piece by Connie Wang, a senior features writer for Refinery29 and the host of the documentary series “Style Out There,” offers a counterpoint to the often maligned idea of cultural appropriation.

“Finding the Beauty in Cultural Appropriation” takes a look at what Nigeria is doing to introduce their country’s various traditional and ancient clothing styles into high fashion. “A source of pride”1 to the Nigerians, the clothing combines the colors, fabrics and designs of various indigenous groups and repurposes them for the runway, bringing to life an ingenious and wildly inventive concept. Taking her cue from Nigerian haute couture, Wang offers her own take on how borrowing, copying and imitating other cultures can actually be a good thing.

Cultural appropriation is not a modern invention. It finds its roots in our primitive antecedents and the fact we are a species endowed with an affinity for mimicry. In “Mimicry in Social Interaction: Its Effect on Human Judgment and Behavior” published in the European Journal of Social Sciences, authors Nicolas Gueguen, Celine Jacob and Angelique Martin write “…mimicry is associated with the desire to create affiliation and rapport and that automatic mimicry is the result of an evolution process when mimicry was used in social communication between humans.2 In other words, mimicry offered the possibility of connections by promoting the sense of likeness to others. Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Fish, Chips and Pompeii’s Fast Food Thermopolia

fish and chips

Image courtesy of An Italian in My Kitchen

Nowadays fast food comes in all forms throughout the world.  A life on the go means quick fare at affordable prices. Whether hamburgers, tacos, satay, samosas, crepes or today’s recipe of fish and chips, fast food is ubiquitous.

Modern convenience? Not if you take a page from Roman culinary history.

Thermopolia (s., thermopolium) were eateries found aplenty in the Roman Empire. In fact, Pompeii boasted around 150 thermopolia. A thermopolium was an open air room with an L-shaped counter distinguished by large storage urns called dolia containing dry edibles such as nuts.  Each day the thermopolium featured different dishes available for purchase. People could select such standard victuals as “coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils and spicy wine.”1 Other fare included pizza (tomatoes were not yet brought to Europe at the time) made of cheese and onions, soups, pickles, eggs and ham.2 A tempting array of palate pleasers no doubt. And like our 21st century fast food menus, thermopolia  meals were based on their convenience and simplicity. Customers knew what to expect and would merely point to the blue plate specials they wanted. Continue reading