Category Archives: Blog

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! 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!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day Graphic 2014 copy

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

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

Reimagining Extinction: Michael Wang and the Art of Resurrection

NASAAntiquityNOW examines the connections between ancient and modern times to demonstrate that the past is never really gone. In so many ways, we still draw from the wisdom of ancient peoples and times. Even when it comes to climate change.

As we have been hearing, the warnings are dire. The earth is warming at an increasing rate.  Although the planet has experienced natural weather fluctuations throughout its history, the current alarms are sounding more ominous.

NASA has collected a trove of information gathered from earth-orbiting satellites and other sources to offer scientists a comprehensive view of changing climate patterns, much of which has been caused by fossil fuels. And the evidence is compelling. According to NASA:

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.[1]

NASA explains that the current trend is significant since a greater than 95 percent probability attributes it to human activity since the mid-20th century at a rate “unprecedented over decades to millennia.”[2]

In the midst of the debates on what to do, what to regulate and how much of an impact all this data will have on life in the future, one artist is staking claim to his own representational view of our evolving world.

New York artist Michael Wang is fascinated by the interaction of the natural world, particularly the ancient one, with a modern industrial world seemingly bent on destruction. He imbues his art with the concepts of global systems that affect the natural world, including species distribution, climate change, resource allocation and the global economy. Two projects show his unique interpretation:

In Drowned World, which was exhibited at the 2018 European Contemporary Art Biennial’s Manifesta 12 in Palermo, Italy, Wang depicted the collision of the natural world that gives us sustenance and the industrial world that drives civilizations. In the installation visitors to Palermo’s botanical garden climbed steps to look over a wall into the remains of a coal-gas plant that once powered the city’s streetlamps. In that modern-day artifact Wang planted a forest of plants similar to those that grew 300 million years ago during the Carbonifera era, and which over time became coal and other fossil fuels. Araucarias trees, ferns, cycads and epiphytes thrived among rusted remnants of machinery and gas tanks. It was a juxtaposition of ancient, modern and ancient again, an intriguing synthesis of a lifecycle disrupted.[3]

In his art Wang questions what this disruption means to Earth’s future. When humans have wielded their influence with ever increasing consequences, how can the natural world coexist? “Climate change and ocean acidification modify the conditions for nearly all life on this planet. When the effects of human actions are nearly inescapable, what can we consider truly natural?”[4]

Click here to see pictures from the installation.

flower

franklinia alatamaha

In a city of quirks and marvels the rooftop garden of the Swiss Institute Contemporary Art Gallery in New York is unique in design and purpose. In rows of simple aluminum planters grow four different kinds of plants that are fragile vestiges of a verdant history going back millennia. Indeed, in one of the planters flourishes franklinia alatamaha, which is extinct in the wild (EW) as classified by The International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“Nature’s orphans” and “homeless” is how Wang describes these plants because without human cultivation, they wouldn’t exist in nature. As discussed above, human disruption is once again a factor, an underlying thrust that repeats in Wang’s art. For example, ginkgo biloba, a hardy and popular contemporary tree, began dying off in the wild thousands of years ago in the mountains of central China. Most likely this was due to human hunters who killed the large animal that picked up and shed the seeds across the region. This annihilation of that animal species affected ginkgo propagation. Ironically, during this period people also grew to value the trees so much that they planted them at temples and in cemeteries. Thus, the trees we see today have all been cultivated by humans.

gingko leaves

Ancient fossilized gingko leaves U.Name.Me/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

“I wanted to trace the passage of these species from nature into culture,” Wang says. He questions how humans manipulate nature to the degree that we alter the natural order according to our own self-interests. “How can you cause the extinction of a species in one context while also allowing its propagation beyond what would be purely natural in another context?”[5]

Click here to see pictures from the installation.

Wang fuses his artistic vision with an awareness of ancient systems and an understanding of earth’s peril. His art forces us to consider the inevitable result of human folly, and exhorts us to find the collective will to prevail.

Wang’s other works include “Invasives,” the controlled release of invasive species, “Carbon Copies,” an exhibition linking the production of artworks to the release of greenhouse gases, “Rivals,” a series that connects the sale of artworks to corporate finance, and “Terroir,” monochrome paintings made from the ground bedrock of world cities.

[1] https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
[2] Ibid.
[3] http://www.fruitoftheforest.com/michael-wang-extinct-in-the-wild
[4] Ibid.
[5]https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/culture-clash-nature-and-civilization-face-art-michael-wang

Throwback Thursday! T. Rex: Feathered and Fabulous

TRex American Museum of Natural HistoryThere is a new and exciting exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History and it will bring you face to face with the king of all dinosaurs, the T. Rex! But, you may be surprised to see feathers sprouting from the leathery hide of the toothy tyrannosaurus. The museum is displaying a brand new, full size model of the T. Rex, complete with feathers. You can read all about it in this article in the New York Times.

And for more information about feathered dinosaurs and the link between our modern day avian friends and those terrifying lizards from the past, check out our very first blog post, What’s That Baby T-Rex Doing in My Birdcage?.

Bon Appetit Wednesday! National Baking Month

It’s National Baking Month! This is the perfect time of year to enjoy a few of our delicious and ancient baked goods recipes. Red velvet cake and whoopee pies are yummy, but check out the recipes below to indulge in some sweet and educational baking fun!

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Um Ali

om_aliWe love Egyptian recipes! There are so many delicious ancient Egyptian foods, ingredients and dishes to explore and today we’re bringing you one more. Um Ali, also called Om Ali, is a sweet and creamy bread pudding dessert that has become a traditional modern Egyptian dessert. It brings so much joy to the palate, but it has a surprisingly dark history. It was actually created in the 13th century to celebrate the murder of Shajar al-Durr, a sultana. Click here to read the entire sordid affair.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be celebrating something so dark and dismal in order to enjoy this traditional sweet. It can be served cold or warm depending on the season and it’s made with ingredients you most likely have in your kitchen right now. For a fancier and more complex version, visit click here. Enjoy some Um Ali this holiday season!

p.s. Click here for a list of our other Egyptian recipe posts.

Um Ali

Ingredients

  • 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar, divided
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Place the pastry sheets in the baking dish and place the dish in the oven. Watch it closely. When the top layer turns crunchy and golden, remove it from the oven. Continue until all the sheets are cooked.
  3. Preheat the oven’s broiler.
  4. In a bowl, combine walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, raisins, coconut and 1/4 cup sugar. Break cooked pastry into pieces and stir into nut mixture. Spread mixture evenly in 9×13-inch dish.
  5. Bring milk and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Pour over nut mixture.
  6. Beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread evenly over nut mixture in dish.
  7. Place dessert under oven broiler until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.