Category Archives: Healing Arts

Tattoos and the Body as Canvas: Erasing the Past With Modern Tattoos

basma-hameed-before-after-cosmetic-tattooWe’ve written before about tattoos in our post Tattoos and the Body as Canvas. How from ancient times people have etched into flesh the story of their lives.  From designs that heighten beauty, signify status, show affiliation or even scourge a social outcast, tattoos have always been about designations. Indeed, our body as canvas is at once both intimate and public. For some, tattoos depict their innermost beings for the world to see.  For others, particularly when used to announce a person’s outlier status in society, tattoos are meant to be felt as a visceral destruction of self. Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Seaweed for Thanksgiving?

seaweedIn the past we’ve discussed several ancient superfoods including quinoa, amaranth, honey and even the adzuki bean. Today, we add one more to the list—seaweed, an ancient food from the sea that packs a punch nutritionally, but is often unappreciated by the uninitiated. Not everyone loves seaweed, but maybe they should! Today’s recipe, Carrots with Arame, is an unexpected pairing that will help you bring seaweed to the Thanksgiving table. But first, let’s make sure you can explain to your guests the history behind your curious contribution to the holiday feast. Continue reading

Celebrating National Coffee Day: A Jittery Goat, Political Plots, Slave Labor, Grounds for Divorce—The Coffee Bean Brews Up a Tumultuous World History

The inimitable coffee bean. Lusciously colored, smooth, glistening, fragrant. It’s a devilish addiction shared by millions of people throughout history. But aside from its robust flavor and energized boost, the bean has given us a history that is eye-opening and colorful, just like the bean itself.  Let’s take a step back in time and review a few facts drawn from the nefarious and splendiferous legacy of this enduring brew.

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Bon Appetit Wednesday! Almond Brittle with the Ancient Anise

Koehler1887-PimpinellaAnisumA small and unassuming looking herb, anise (also called aniseed) has been treasured by many different civilizations since antiquity. While it is related to several other well-known herbs such as cumin, fennel and dill, anise has made a special place for itself. Today we’re bringing you a recipe for Anise Almond Brittle, a perfect treat to start the fall season. First, let’s find out why this little spice has been popular for millennia! Continue reading

Ancient Dentistry Part 2: A Mummy, A Mystery and Queen Hatshepsut’s Molar

Ancient Egyptian dentistry.

An example of ancient Egyptian dentistry.

In Ancient Dentistry Part 1: Drills, Gemstones and Toothpaste!, we looked at how dentistry was practiced millennia ago in Pakistan, Slovenia, Algeria, France, North America and Egypt. Drilling, implants and tooth bling were some long ago procedures with fascinating modern day correlations.  Ironically, despite having toothpaste and dental procedures, it seemed that the Egyptians suffered a great deal of tooth discomfort, which was apparent from the formulas for pain potions found recorded on papyrus and in the condition of the teeth of many mummies. Continue reading

Ancient Dentistry Part 1: Drills, Gemstones and Toothpaste!

dentistry-316945_640 (1)We all cringe at the thought of going to the dentist — and that’s with the comfortable recliners, the soothing music, the anesthetics and analgesics. Imagine what a visit to the dentist must have been like thousands of years ago.

In modern-day Pakistan, where the earliest evidence of dentistry has been found, Stone Age dentists were wielding drills made of flint. Nine-thousand-year-old teeth found at a Neolithic graveyard showed clear signs of drilling, but also signs that rotting gum tissue had been removed, leading researchers to consider the crude drills “surprisingly effective.”[1]

In fact, in a 2006 article for the journal Nature, researchers wrote about the “perfect,” “amazing” holes those flint drills had made.[2] The holes were about one-seventh of an inch deep, except in one case where the dentist had managed to drill a hole in the inside back end of a tooth, boring out toward the front of the mouth.[3] There is no evidence of dental fillings; however, at least one researcher believes some sort of “tarlike material or soft vegetable matter” may have been placed inside the holes.[4] Unfortunately for those early patients, it’s unlikely that the dentists used any kind of anesthetic. Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Bottle the Taste of Summer with Dandelion Wine

Dandelion_sunIt’s the height of summer in the northern hemisphere where the lazy sun brings us long, hot days of outdoor activities, friends and family, vacations and lots of relaxation. Today it’s just a weed, but once upon a time nothing said summer like the dandelion and the year’s first batch of dandelion wine. Nowadays, we fight these plants to keep them from invading our perfectly manicured summer lawns, but these tiny pieces of sunshine have been valued by many civilizations since ancient times. This week we’re bringing you a recipe for dandelion wine so you can bottle your own bit of sunshine. But first, let’s find out why the dandelion has been so popular through history and how it lost its status in our modern society. Continue reading

Ramadan Observance and the World Cup: A Major Decision for Muslim Athletes

soccer ramadan copyRamadan, the Muslim month of fasting that is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, begins this Saturday, June 28th. Adult Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sexual relations during the daylight hours and instead use the time to refocus their minds and spirits on God while practicing self-sacrifice. This is an extremely daunting task for most people, especially in today’s society where instant gratification is ferociously embraced.  However, for modern Muslim athletes, Ramadan poses an especially large challenge. With major international sporting events taking place such as the World Cup this year and the Summer Olympics in other years, how do the devout observe the month while maintaining such a high level of physical activity? Continue reading

Foodborne Illness: The History of an Invisible Enemy

The history of foodborne illness is as complex and tortuous as the history of eating. Since the very beginning, foodborne illness has been a perpetual hitchhiker in our journey with food. With every human advancement in eating and acquiring food, foodborne illness has been ready with a challenge, finding new ways to survive in changing environments. Bacteria’s tenacious flagella have withstood numerous developments in our diet and continue to plague our lives today.

 IN THE BEGINNING

Humans discover fire.

Humans discover fire.

The food rules for early man were simple: eat what you can get. Lacking discerning palettes, these opportunistic hunters were most likely consuming contaminated meat, poisonous mushrooms and indigestible grains. The meat from abandoned carcasses? On the menu. The sickest, weakest animals? A quick and easy appetizer. The variety of microbial fauna they frequently ingested has been preserved for posterity in the form of coprolites (fossilized feces). These generous deposits give us a glimpse of their diet as well as the pathogenic organisms therein.[1] Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Celebrate the Ancient Marshmallow with a S’more Pie

Marshmallows_in_soft_yellow_and_blue_lightHere’s a recipe just suited to commemorate AntiquityNOW Month in May.

Weightless pillows of sweet perfection, light as air and oh so heavenly. Drop them in a steaming cup of chocolate, use them to bind cereal into gooey deliciousness or simply pop one in your mouth and let it dissolve into pure sugary delight. The marshmallow with its mass-marketed, brightly colored, supermarket incarnations may seem like a truly modern candy, but in reality, like so many things, it was born in our shared ancient history. Let’s take a look at its past before we share with you a recipe from its present, a decadent S’more Pie. Continue reading