Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘grains’

On this day ten years ago…
via Meeting demand for Ancient Grains

Read Full Post »

eurekalert.org

 

Archaeologists at Lund University in Sweden have found carbonised germinated grains showing that malt was produced for beer brewing as early as the Iron Age in the Nordic region. The findings made in Uppåkra in southern Sweden indicate a large-scale production of beer, possibly for feasting and trade.

“We found carbonised malt in an area with low-temperature ovens located in a separate part of the settlement. The findings are from the 400-600s, making them one of the earliest evidence of beer brewing in Sweden”, says Mikael Larsson, who specialises in archaeobotany, the archaeology of human-plant interactions.

Archaeologists have long known that beer was an important product in ancient societies in many parts of the world. Through legal documents and images, it has been found, for example, that beer was produced in Mesopotamia as early as 4 000 BCE. However, as written sources in the Nordic region are absent prior to the Middle Ages (before ca 1200 CE), knowledge of earlier beer production is dependent on botanical evidence.

“We often find cereal grains on archaeological sites, but very rarely from contexts that testify as to how they were processed. These germinated grains found around a low-temperature oven indicate that they were used to become malt for brewing beer”, says Mikael Larsson.

Beer is made in two stages. The first is the malting process, followed by the actual brewing. The process of malting starts by wetting the grain with water, allowing the grain to germinate. During germination, enzymatic activities starts to convert both proteins and starches of the grain into fermentable sugars. Once enough sugar has been formed, the germinated grain is dried in an oven with hot air, arresting the germination process. This is what happened in the oven in Uppåkra.

“Because the investigated oven and carbonised grain was situated in an area on the site with several similar ovens, but absent of remains to indicate a living quarter, it is likely that large-scale production of malt was allocated to a specific area on the settlement, intended for feasting and/or trading”, explains Mikael Larsson.

Early traces of malt in connection with beer brewing have only been discovered in two other places in the Nordic region. One is in Denmark from 100 CE and one is in Eketorp on Öland from around 500 CE.

“From other archaeological sites in the Nordic region, traces of the bog-myrtle plant have been found, which indicates beer brewing. Back then, bog-myrtle was used to preserve and flavour beer. It wasn’t until later during the Middle Ages that hops took over as beer flavouring”, Mikael Larsson concludes.

Facts: Method

Two-litre soil samples are taken from various archaeological contexts – in houses, in pits, around hearths and ovens. The plant material found is usually preserved in a carbonised state. The soil is mixed with water and the carbon rises to the surface and is sieved through a fine mesh. The particles extracted are dried and studied under a microscope.

Facts: Uppåkra

Uppåkra is currently the largest Iron Age settlements in southern Scandinavia and served as a densely populated political and religious centre of power for more than 1 000 years, from 100s BCE to the 1 000s CE. The many findings made of imported luxury items such as jewellery and glass bowls, and from a developed production of crafts, indicate that the location was both rich and a significant trading centre.

###

Read Full Post »

Another interesting read.

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms:

all Linear A ideograms grainsThe chart above lists almost all of the Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms. The Linear A Semitic words and ideograms for cereals are identical to those found on Linear A tablets HT 86 and HT 95 (Haghia Triada). Simply refer to the previous posts on these two highly significant Linear A tablets to confirm these interpretations. Also found in this chart are general Linear A ideograms, the majority of which are identical to their Linear B counterparts, which should come as no surprise to anyone, considering that the Linear B syllabary is merely a refinement of the Linear A syllabary.

View original post

Read Full Post »

20140103-135501.jpg

streets of Pompeii

Topic: Dining in ancient Pompeii !

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—In Pompeii, a team led by University of Cincinnati archaeologist Steven Ellis has discovered evidence that challenges the traditional perception of Roman dining, which holds that the rich feasted on exotic animals while the poor were reduced to eating simple fare. In a two block area near the city's Porta Stabia gate, the team excavated some 20 shop fronts that would have served food and drink to the general public. Scraps of food recovered from latrines and cesspits show that these businesses weren't just serving gruel, but a wide variety of foods, including cuts of expensive meat and salted fish imported from Spain. In one drain the archaeologists found shellfish and a leg joint of a giraffe, the first giraffe bone to be reported at a site in Italy. "The traditional vision of some mass of hapless lemmings—scrounging for whatever they can pinch from the side of a street, or huddled around a bowl of gruel—needs to be replaced by a higher fare and standard of living, at least for the urbanites in Pompeii," said Ellis.
archaeology.org
Jan 2, 2014

More information on this topic:
No scrounging for scraps: Research uncovers the diets of the middle and lower class in Pompeii

University of Cincinnati archaeologists are turning up discoveries in the famed Roman city of Pompeii that are wiping out the historic perceptions of how the Romans dined, with the rich enjoying delicacies such as flamingos and the poor scrounging for soup or gruel. Steven Ellis, a University of Cincinnati associate professor of classics, will present these discoveries on Jan. 4, at the joint annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and American Philological Association (APA) in Chicago.

UC teams of archaeologists have spent more than a decade at two city blocks within a non-elite district in the Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried under a volcano in 79 AD. The excavations are uncovering the earlier use of buildings that would have dated back to the 6th century.

Ellis says the excavation is producing a complete archaeological analysis of homes, shops and businesses at a forgotten area inside one of the busiest gates of Pompeii, the Porta Stabia.

The area covers 10 separate building plots and a total of 20 shop fronts, most of which served food and drink. The waste that was examined included collections from drains as well as 10 latrines and cesspits, which yielded mineralized and charred food waste coming from kitchens and excrement. Ellis says among the discoveries in the drains was an abundance of the remains of fully-processed foods, especially grains.
“The material from the drains revealed a range and quantity of materials to suggest a rather clear socio-economic distinction between the activities and consumption habits of each property, which were otherwise indistinguishable hospitality businesses,” says Ellis. Findings revealed foods that would have been inexpensive and widely available, such as grains, fruits, nuts, olives, lentils, local fish and chicken eggs, as well as minimal cuts of more expensive meat and salted fish from Spain. Waste from neighboring drains would also turn up less of a variety of foods, revealing a socioeconomic distinction between neighbors.

A drain from a central property revealed a richer variety of foods as well as imports from outside Italy, such as shellfish, sea urchin and even delicacies including the butchered leg joint of a giraffe. “That the bone represents the height of exotic food is underscored by the fact that this is thought to be the only giraffe bone ever recorded from an archaeological excavation in Roman Italy,” says Ellis. “How part of the animal, butchered, came to be a kitchen scrap in a seemingly standard Pompeian restaurant not only speaks to long-distance trade in exotic and wild animals, but also something of the richness, variety and range of a non-elite diet.”

Deposits also included exotic and imported spices, some from as far away as Indonesia.

Ellis adds that one of the deposits dates as far back as the 4th century, which he says is a particularly valuable discovery, since few other ritual deposits survived from that early stage in the development of Pompeii.

“The ultimate aim of our research is to reveal the structural and social relationships over time between working-class Pompeian households, as well as to determine the role that sub-elites played in the shaping of the city, and to register their response to city-and Mediterranean-wide historical, political and economic developments. However, one of the larger datasets and themes of our research has been diet and the infrastructure of food consumption and food ways,” says Ellis.

He adds that as a result of the discoveries, “The traditional vision of some mass of hapless lemmings – scrounging for whatever they can pinch from the side of a street, or huddled around a bowl of gruel – needs to be replaced by a higher fare and standard of living, at least for the urbanites in Pompeii.”

Contributing team leaders on the project who have focused on diet and food ways are Michael MacKinnon, a professor the University of Winnipeg; Mark Robinson, professor at Oxford University; Jennifer Robinson, also of Oxford University; Emily Holt, professor at Oberlin College and Professor Andrew Fairbairn of the University of Queensland.

Original article:
Phys.org

Read Full Post »

Topic: Grains

Interest in ‘ancient’ grains like quinoa, sorghum and teff has soared, not least because of their gluten-free quality. That means expanding supply to keep up with demand.

Some companies supplying ingredients for the manufacture of gluten-free foods have turned to ancient grains for inspiration – especially since they tend to have high nutrient levels and there have been concerns that products made with rice, corn and potato flour leave nutrients to be desired.

For instance ConAgra Mills in the US has a range of naturally gluten-free flours from quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum. This year it launched a new flour blended from these that is intended to tick all the nutrition boxes for gluten-free eaters.

Companies that sell ancient grains for home preparation have enjoyed new popularity for their products too. Marjorie Leventry of wholesaler Inca Organics, who has been sourcing heirloom quinoa (non-hybrid) from Ecuador since the late 1990s, told FoodNavigator.com that demand has surged in the last five years and the gluten-free trend – together with wholegrain interest – is a driving factor.

This year however she has had to source some of her quinoa needs from neighbouring Bolivia (“standard, not heirloom”). Bolivia supplies around half the world’s quinoa, while Ecuador is said to supply around 20 per cent and Peru around 30 per cent.

Statistics on global quinoa production are not available; the FAO’s agricultural commodity resource has no data at present. A source at the Quinoa Corporation, based in California, said that any figures bandied about are likely to be unreliable as it is not an organised crop. Tens of thousands of farmers grow it, scattered over a large area.

But in Bolivia, quinoa growing farmers are very much in the driving seat. Where cooperatives used to exist, they have now collapsed because farmers can name their price at the farm gate – said to be around three times what they received three years ago in some cases. Efforts to increase production are underway, but this is not just a matter of growing more but infrastructure and cleaning plants are needed too.

Outside Latin America other countries are eyeing up the potential in places with suitable conditions. For instance Egypt is reportedly irrigating tracts of desert land so it can boost exports with non-wheat alternatives including quinoa; and a Canadian company, the Northern Quinoa Corporation, distributes quinoa grown on the prairies of Saskatchewan.

Sorghum story

Sorghum, another gluten-free grain, has a long history in the United States. In a good year, such as 2007, production can be as much as 12.6m metric tonnes.

The majority of US sorghum is destined for animal feed and ethanol production. It has been eaten by humans in Asia and Africa for centuries, but it is a relatively recent addition to the US diet.

The National Sorghum Producers Association says gluten-free foods have been instrumental in encouraging human consumption.

Even so, food and other industrial uses (non animal feed and non ethanol) currently account for just 2 per cent of the US harvest.

Teff luck

Like quinoa, teff is a grain with strong geographical links. Grown mainly in Ethiopia and Eritrea (and, to a lesser degree in India and Australia) it has formed an important nutritious part of the diet there for centuries.

But teff, too, is piquing interest from farmers elsewhere. It is now cultivated in Idaho’s Snake Valley and The Teff Company, based there, has expanded distribution from serving the Ethiopian community and restaurants to natural food stores throughout the US.

Original Article:

Food Navigator.com

By Jess Halliday, 09-Sep-2009

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: