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West Asian food – Mesopotamia and Iran

By | 2017-09-13T17:12:18+00:00 September 13th, 2017|Food, West Asia|

Sumerians sipping beer through straws (ca. 2500 BC) The people of West Asia traditionally divided themselves into two groups who had very different eating and drinking habits. These two groups thought of themselves as enemies, even though they also traded with each other and married each other all the time. One group lived in [...]

Roman food – rich and poor

By | 2017-10-13T15:30:35+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Food, Romans|

Roti bread made with millet Although the first people who came to the Mediterranean were probably following along the coast, and ate mainly fish, shellfish, seaweed, and wild figs, by the time the Roman Republic got started, there were far too many people in the Mediterranean to be able to live entirely from the ocean, and although people kept [...]

Mediterranean Food in the Roman Empire

By | 2017-09-01T16:17:16+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Food, Romans|

Woman baking bread Poor people who lived near the Mediterranean Sea had to eat food that would grow in very dry areas, with light and not very fertile soil. Mostly they ate what archaeologists call the "Mediterranean triad" or three things: wheat and barley (made into beer or porridge or flatbread or soup), olive oil (soaked into the bread, or on vegetables), [...]

Californians fight the Missions

By | 2017-08-12T14:56:31+00:00 August 12th, 2017|History, Native American|

Ohlone people crossing San Francisco Bay, with a European wool blanket (Louis Choris, 1816 AD) In 1500 AD, California was a popular place to live. About one out of every three people living in what would become the United States lived in California. Then, in 1530, the first Spanish explorers under the Holy Roman [...]

European food history – Renaissance to today

By | 2017-08-04T22:17:10+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Food, Modern Europe|

An early chocolate house During the 1500s and 1600s AD, European traders brought back all kinds of new foods from places they sailed to around the world. Rich people began to eat sugar and ginger from India(Combining these two new foods together gave us the gingerbread man). They drank hot chocolate from Central America, coffee from East Africa, and tea from China. Coffee and tea encouraged more and more [...]

The Islamic story of wheat on the chessboard

By | 2017-07-25T17:33:16+00:00 July 25th, 2017|Islam, Literature|

Muslims playing chess in Spain About 1260 AD, Ibn Khallikan, a Kurdish historian living in the Abbasid Empire (modern Iraq), wrote an encyclopedia with biographies of many famous men (though no women). One of the biographies includes a story about chess and the meaning of "exponential growth." The story takes place in India, because Ibn Khallikan knew that [...]

Mehrgahr – Stone Age India

By | 2017-10-18T10:53:09+00:00 July 20th, 2017|History, India|

Clay figurines from Mehrgahr The first people reached India from Africa around 40,000 BC. At first they probably got most of their food from fishing and gathering shellfish, like other people around the world at this time. But around 7000 BC, some people - probably recent arrivals from West Asia who brought their seeds with them - began farming along the river of the Indus Valley [...]

Persephone and Hades – Greek religion

By | 2017-07-16T03:29:00+00:00 July 16th, 2017|History|

Hades kidnaps Persephone (mosaic from Amphipolis, 300s BC) Persephone was the daughter of the goddess Demeter. One day Persephone was dancing with her friends in a sunny meadow, having a good time, picking flowers. Suddenly Persephone's spooky uncle Hades burst out of the ground and grabbed her and pulled her into his chariot! He took Persephone (purr-SEFF-oh-nee) [...]

What was Eleusis? a Greek mystery cult

By | 2017-07-13T01:13:27+00:00 July 13th, 2017|Greeks, Religion|

Demeter, Persephone, and Triptolemos (the boy), an 1899 drawing from a stone carving found at Eleusis . Beginning at least as early as the Late Bronze Age (about 1400 BC) and maybe much earlier even than that, the people of Eleusis in Greece celebrated a holiday there every year that celebrated the time [...]

Who is Demeter? Ancient Greek gods

By | 2017-07-12T23:33:17+00:00 July 12th, 2017|Greeks, Religion|

A field of wheat growing For the Greeks, Demeter is an earth goddess; her name is De, which means earth (the same word as Gaia) and meter, which means mother. Demeter is the goddess of growing things, especially of grains like wheat and barley and millet. Demeter's daughter, Persephone, is the grain itself, [...]