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Ruins on the surface of Tel Dor, located about 19 miles (30 kilometers) to the south of Haifa, in Israel. Phoenician flasks from this site, dating back around 3,000 years, were among those that contained cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its flavor. These finds indicate the existence of trade that brought cinnamon from the Far East to the area of modern-day Israel.
Credit: Photo by Lang Gito, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic

Topic: Cinnamon

How far would you go to get your cinnamon fix? If you lived in the Levant 3,000 years ago (a region that includes modern day Israel), very far indeed new research indicates.

Researchers analyzing the contents of 27 flasks from five archaeological sites in Israel that date back around 3,000 years have found that 10 of the flasks contain cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its flavor, indicating that the spice was stored in these flasks.

At this time cinnamon was found in the Far East with the closest places to Israel being southern India and Sri Lanka located at least 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometers) away. A form of it was also found in the interior of Africa, but does not match the material found in these flasks.

This discovery “raises the intriguing possibility that long-range spice trade from the Far East westward may have taken place some 3,000 years ago,” researchers write in a paper to be published in the journal Mediterranean Archaeology andArchaeometry. Although cinnamon can be purchased today at any grocery or bulk food store, 3,000 years ago, people in the Levant would have needed to take part in trade that extended beyond the edge of the known world in order to acquire it, something this discovery suggests they were willing to do.

This trade may go back ever further into antiquity and involve other goods and parts of the Middle East. The researchers note, for example, that black pepper from India has been found in the mummy of Ramesses II, a pharaoh of Egypt who lived more than 3,200 years ago.

From the Far East to Israel

At the time of this trade, Israel’s coastal inhabitants included the Phoenicians, a people so renowned for their seafaring skills the ancient writer Herodotus claimed they had succeeded in sailing around Africa around 600 BC (something scholars are doubtful of today).

But, while these people were great seafarers, they probably did not sail all the way to the Far East to get these goods, perhaps instead using intermediaries along the way.

“We don’t think they sailed directly [to the Far East]; it was a very hard task even in the 16th century A.D.” Dvory Namdar, a researcher with the Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University, told LiveScience in an interview. Her research colleague Ayelet Gilboa, of the University of Haifa, also agreed in an interview that it was very doubtful there was a direct voyage.

They explained that the flasks that contained cinnamon were made locally in northern coastal Israel which back then was part of ancient Phoenicia. They appear to have been designed to hold precious contents, featuring a narrow opening with thick walls. Flasks like these have been found in special places such as treasuries and temple storerooms, the researchers noted.

Namdar and Gilboa explained that the bark from the cinnamon tree would have been brought in from the Far East in a dry form and, when it reached Phoenicia, was mixed with some form of liquid and put in these flasks. Then, afterwards it was shipped all over Phoenicia and also to neighboring regions such as Philistia (much of which is located in modern day southwest Israel) and Cyprus.

Cinnamon mixed in wine?

A further mystery the team faces: What was the cinnamon used for? The cinnamon from these flasks would have tasted “roughly the same as today,” Namdar said.

One possibility, Namdar and Gilboa said, is that people of the time mixed the cinnamon in with wine, an idea supported by the fact that the flasks were quite small, whereas wine was stored in bigger containers. “If you mix it with a bigger [container of wine], then you get flavored wine,” they said. Indeed, cinnamon is often used in wine-based recipes today, including ones for mulled or spiced wine.

The project was supported by a European Research Council Advanced Grant.

Original article:
livescience.com
By Owen Jarus, August 20, 2013

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Bark from Cinnamomum verum, which is found naturally in southern India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar; another form of cinnamon comes from Cinnamomum cassia, found naturally in China, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. More research is needed to determine the origin of the cinnamon found in the ancient flasks.
Credit: Photo by H. Zell, CC

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A set of balance scales.

Topic: Trade
This article is interesting, I hope more shows up on food that might have been traded,( I’m sure it was ). If so I’ll keep you informed.

A tantalizing hint of an ancient trading town

When archaeologists Geir Grønnesby and Ellen Grav Ellingsen found these and other artefacts during a dig in mid-Norway, they realized they had intriguing evidence of a Viking-age trading area mentioned in the Norse Sagas.

The finds came from two separate boat graves in an area in Nord-Trøndelag County called Lø, a farm in part of Steinkjer. The archaeologists, who both work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Museum, were there to conduct a routine investigation required because of an upgrade to Norway’s main national highway, the E6.

But instead of a simple highway dig, the researchers found themselves with a potential answer to an unsolved puzzle about a mysterious Viking trading place that is named in ancient sagas, but that has never before been located.

“These finds got us thinking about the descriptions in the Sagas that describe Steinkjer as a trading place,” the researchers wrote of their findings in Vitark, an academic journal published by the University Museum from Dec. 2012. “The Sagas say that Steinkjer, under the rule of Eirik Jarl, was briefly even more important than Nidaros, before Olav Haraldsson re-established Nidaros as the king’s residence and trading city.

Norway’s medieval capital

Nidaros, now the modern city of Trondheim, was Norway’s capital during Viking times, and the country’s religious centre. The world’s northernmost Gothic Cathedral, Nidarosdomen, was built in Trondheim, with its first stones laid in 1070 over the grave of Olav Haraldsson. The oldest existing parts of the cathedral date from 1183.

As a medieval city and a religious capital, Nidaros played an important role in international trade throughout the Middle Ages. The Lewis Chessmen, an exquisite set of 12th century chess pieces worked out of walrus ivory and whales’ teeth, are widely believed to have been crafted in the Trondheim/Nidaros area, and traded away.

Olav Haraldsson was the Norwegian king who is often credited with bringing Christianity to Norway and whose sainthood, first proclaimed in 1031, a year after his death, was confirmed by Pope Alexander III in 1164.

Not surprisingly, he features in a number of different Norse and Icelandic sagas. It was these sagas that mention a major trading place in Steinkjer that was even larger than Nidaros. But until archaeologists started the dig in Lø, they had few clues as to where this Viking-age commercial powerhouse might be found.

1000 years of dirt and development

Archaeologists seeking to find a 1000-year-old trading place have precious few leads to pursue.

Almost certainly there were no permanent buildings, which would be the easiest to find, and many items that would have been traded would be made of organic materials that might not survive the ravages of the centuries.

Apart from finding obvious clues, such as coins or metal or glass items that were clearly from foreign lands, archeologists have to rely on much more subtle evidence that can stand the test of time.

One such hint that a location might be a trading place is the geography of the place itself, the researchers wrote in Vitark.

“Even though there is no archaeological proof that there was a trading place in Steinkjer during Viking times, there are several aspects that support this idea,” the researchers wrote.

Most importantly, they note, Steinjker is located in a natural trading areas, at the mouth of a river at the innermost part of Trondheim fjord. It is also in a place where farmers have been working flat fields for centuries.

Swords, beads and jewelry

Another clue that archaeologists use to locate the possible trading place is a detailed map of the locations of all kinds of different archaeological finds that might suggest trade.

The logic here is that greater numbers of traded goods are more likely to be found in close proximity to a place of trade, with fewer traded goods found farther and farther from trading areas.

So the researchers plotted all relevant finds from Nord-Trøndelag County, and again and again, the finds suggested a major trading area in Steinkjer.

Beads made of amber and glass are commonly traded, and the area around Steinkjer was rich with finds of these goods, with 254 beads found in 28 different locales, the researchers said.

While nearby Stjørdal had a higher number of bead finds – 485 beads, all told – the researchers noted that most of those beads came from two large finds, which makes it less likely that the beads were linked directly to a trading place.

Twenty-two examples of a special kind of Viking-age sword, called the H sword based on the design of its hilt and one that is associated with trade, were also found in Steinkjer, the most of any area in Nord-Trøndelag.

Five of six pieces of imported jewelry found in Nord-Trøndelag were found in Steinkjer, while six of 10 imported brooches from Nord-Trøndelag also came from Steinkjer.

Scales and a button

While beads, swords and imported jewelry help suggest that Steinkjer was home to a major trading place, two specific finds, in boat graves in Lø, were among the most persuasive finds.

One, a silver button made of braided silver threads that appears to have originated in the British Isles, suggests that the person in the grave had a high status.

The second is a set of balance scales found in another boat grave. The balance scales were constructed in a way that led the archaeologists to believe it came from the west – not from Norway.

Scales themselves naturally suggest trade, and when the researchers looked at all the scales found in Nord-Trøndelag, they again found a clear concentration in the Steinkjer area.

Under the church, in the city centre

If all of these concentrations of finds support the location of a major trading place in Steinkjer as mentioned in the Norse sagas, then where is it?

Here, the archaeologists can only make an educated guess. Based on the fact that sea levels were four or five metres higher in this area 1000 years ago, the location of the existing church in Steinkjer is the most logical place for the trading place to have been, the researchers say.

But confirmation of the fact that Steinkjer was a major trading area in the Viking age raises yet another puzzle: If Steinkjer was such an important area for international trade, why did trade eventually shift to Trondheim, as it did?

Grønnesby says that the shift in trading areas was surely due to the tremendous power struggles between different rulers in the area. Nidaros along with Levanger, another trading area, simply had more support than Steinkjer. “We see that Steinkjer disappears in the sources in the Middle Ages while the same sources show that (nearby) Levanger was a trading post,” he notes.

Nevertheless, determining the exact answer will require finding more than silver buttons, scales and beads – and may be an answer that we will never really know.

Original article:

Phys.org
July10, 2013

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Topic: Salt gatherers:

I have done a bit of reading since I posted the article on the Miwok Indians being identified as salt garthers and traders,

Here are a cople of links to articles on Indian Country Today that might be oF intrest-.

More on the subject of salt later as it affected all of the ancient world-one way or another.

Sierra Nevada Paiutes called Salt People

This looks like the original article about the Miwok also on Indian Country Today.

Ancient Miwok harvested salt

Below is a photo of the basins in question.

Salt Basins

interesting find-no matter what the orgin.

Joanna Linsley-Poe

4/23/2010

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Glad everyone enjoyed the April Fools day post!

Topic: Salt

— Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada, a granite terrace the size of a football field holds hundreds of mysterious stone basins representing what geologists believe is one of the earliest known “factories” created and used by ancient Miwok Indians to make tons of salt to trade with tribes up and down California.

James G. Moore, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, learned of the strangely pitted terrace from detailed maps made more than a century ago and hiked the region in May to study what he determined were clearly hand-hewn objects.

He examined 369 of the circular artifacts only a few yards from two streams of saltwater fed by a nearby spring and a lake that was equally salty.

Moore and his colleague at the USGS, Michael F. Diggles, believe the circular basins were handmade by the Miwok people in an impressive display of early technology. They have published a detailed account of their findings in an official Geological Survey report, but because the area is now an “archaeologically sensitive” site and its location protected by law, Moore is permitted only to say that the basins are in a canyon somewhere within the Stanislaus National Forest.

“This is quite likely to give us new insights into the lives of the Miwok people in the Sierra,” said Kent G. Lightfoot, a UC professor of anthropology and a specialist in the history and culture of California’s Native Americans.

Creating the basins

Records show that early American Indians, including the Miwok people, lived for thousands of years as hunter-gatherers in that area of the Sierra, Moore said, and it is filled with evidence of old settlements, with abundant middens, arrowheads and small stone tools. But learning how long ago the basins were carved awaits high-tech dating.

The basins average more than a yard in diameter and are more than 2 feet deep.

To create them, Moor and Diggles said, Miwok tribe members built fires on the granite surface that heated the stone until it fractured. They then crumbled and pounded the fractures with stone tools and removed the debris, inch by inch, until the basins were formed.

Diggles estimated it took Miwok workers nearly a year to complete a single one. He calculated that each fire used to dig a single layer of rock deepened the granite by no more than a centimeter. The process, he said, must have been repeated 100 times to make a single basin.

Similar granite basins were discovered in 1891 by Henry W. Turner, a geologist exploring California’s mountains in what is now Sequoia National Park, Moore said in the Geological Survey report. Moore has examined those, too.

“I think of them as the Machu Picchu of North America,” Moore said. Machu Picchu is the ancient city of stone in the Peruvian Andes, abandoned by the Incas nearly 500 years ago.

3 tons of salt a year

Salt springs are extremely rare in the Sierra Nevada, but Moore said the salt in the nearby streams probably comes from a layer of ancient marine sediment formed many millions of years ago when the area was covered by an ocean.

He said he believes the Miwok people carried water from the streams in watertight woven baskets, poured it into the basins and let it evaporate in the summer heat until the dry salt could be scooped out. The salt content of the water and the rate of water flow indicate that the two streams probably yielded about 3 tons of salt each year, Moore said.

The people of the area, he said, “had a large and valuable surplus to trade with other tribes – an early example of commerce by hunter-gatherer people.”

Chemical analysis of the water also shows high levels of arsenic – 170 times higher than the maximum allowed in drinking water by the Environmental Protection Agency, he said. It is unknown whether arsenic made its way into the salt.

“Salt was an important commodity for Native Americans,” UC Berkeley’s Lightfoot said. “It is certainly possible that salt harvested from these basins could have been traded to other native groups in California and the Great Basin (east of the Sierra).

“Further work will be needed to develop a solid chronology for the basins.”

Original article:

SFGate.com

December 30, 2009|By David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

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Topic: Salt -Storehouse

A 2,000-YEAR-OLD Roman salthouse has been discovered during archaeological excavations at the planned £1.5billion port at Coryton.

Archaeologists who made the find on the 34-acre site are set to unveil the full extent of the discovery on Tuesday, September 15.

The site where the mine was found is due to become a wildlife area, protecting a range of birds, animals and plants to offset any disruption caused during the construction of the port.

Xavier Woodward, a spokesman for DP World – which is the global company behind the port development – confirmed a Roman salt roundhouse had been discovered. He said: “The find has not been classed as of national significance, but is of regional value.

“It was discovered there was a Roman salthouse on the mudflats. The mudflats would be left covered in salt as tides went in and out and this would be collected and shipped to London. It was quite a valuable commodity at the time and a key industry for Essex.”

The site will soon be filled in and the seawall broken to create the wildlife wetland.

The port would be the UK’s first deep sea port and is the most significant UK port development for 20 years.

Work to dredge the estuary in order to deepen it for supertankers has not yet begun, although it was planned to begin in March.

The hold-up has been blamed on the economic recession and a drop in the container trade. When it is built by the Dubai-based company it is expected to create more than 12,000 jobs.

Original Article

By Christine Sexton

Echo News, 14th September 2009

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Topic : Wine Part 2

wine in egyptWines from things other than grapes

There are five basic groups of Egyptian wines; those from grapes, dates, palm, pomegranates, and other fruits.

Palm wine was produced by tapping the trunk near its branches and collecting the juice and then fermenting the liquid. Date wine is produced by mashing dates and fermenting the resulting juice.

Pomegranate wine was also produced. I have tasted a bottle of pomegranate wine (of recent vintage), and find that it has a fruity, sweet taste no unlike many ‘blush’ wines made today. Meads from honey were also made.

Just how good was the wine of Ancient Egypt?

The ancient Romans, who had quite a lot of vineyards of their own, also imported wines from Egypt. They considered the vineyards along the Canopic branch of the Nile to have some the best wines. Two writers during the Roman empire record the wine at Mareotis is white, fragrant, thin, but of good quality. They also record that the wine of Sebennytus in the central delta, ranked high in excellence. The Romans also were very impressed with wines grown around the lake Menzalah district, the Tanis district, northern Xois area and in the region of Sile.

Gods and Goddesses of wine

Wine was considered a particularly special offering to any of the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. But it was Renentet (also called Ernutet or Renen-utet) the goddess of plenty and harvests who invariably had a small shrine near the wine press and vat, as well as on the spout where the juices flows from the vat to the receiving tank. Osiris was also a god of wine as head honoree at the Ouag festival. the hieroglyphics making up the festival name include three wine jars on a table, and a fourth jar being offered by an outstretched hand. The goddess Hathor (Het-hor) was, among other things, the goddess of wine and intoxication.

So while we constantly read of beer being the drink of the people and one of the chief staples of life of the ancient Egyptian, it is wine and the vineyard that holds a special place of honor as a Food of the Gods.

Original article published on Touregypt.Net 

by Dr. Michael Poe Phd, 2004

Reprinted with the permission of the author.

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Topic: Early Agriculture

Archaeologists in Cyprus found evidence that inhabitants of the Mediterranean island may have abandoned a nomadic lifestyle for agriculture-based settlements earlier than previously believed.

The excavations at the Politiko-Troullia site, near the capital Nicosia, unearthed a series of households around a communal courtyard, and proof of intensive animal husbandry and crop-processing, according to a statement today on the Web site of the Cypriot Interior Ministry’s Public Information Office.

The dig revealed copper metallurgy and sophisticated ceramic technology during the middle part of the Bronze Age, or between 4,000 and 3,500 years ago, the statement said. Archaeologists had previously believed that such settlements, which went on to evolve into cities, only began developing toward the end of the middle Bronze Age.

Cyprus, the third-largest island in the Mediterranean, is thought to have been first settled around 8,800 B.C., according to the British Museum. The findings of the digs, led by professors from Arizona State University and involving students from Cyprus, the U.S. and Canada, “open an archaeological window on the communities that provided the foundation for urbanized civilization on Cyprus” in the late Bronze Age, the statement said.

The fieldwork reveals extensive evidence of the Bronze Age community that was the predecessor to the ancient city of Tamassos, founded in the subsequent Iron Age, according to the statement. In contrast with other city-states in Cyprus, there were previously no precise details about the foundation of Tamassos as an important trade city.

Original Article  July /2009 by

Paul Tugwell

Bloomburg.com

 

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