Food in the ancient world

Issue 8 of Ancient History magazine is done and will be going to the printer’s this week. It deals with food in the ancient world, and also touches upon wine and dining customs. It has been a real team effort to put this issue together and I want to thank in particular Peter Konieczny for taking the lead in contacting authors and illustrators, and Christy Beall again for her help when it came to layout and pictures. Great job!

With the change in editors we also seized the opportunity to change a few things about the magazine, as you might have noticed. We’re calling it simply Ancient History now, with the logo being a stylized AH rather than AHM. We all feel that this is better in keeping with the other magazines, like Ancient Warfare. It also makes the logo on the cover of each issue more easy to read and probably a bit more recognizable, too. We hope you’ll like it.

The issue itself is rich in content. Manon Henzen, who is a specialist when it comes to reconstructing ancient food, has written the introduction for this issue and also recreated four recipes for you to try out yourself. If you do try out one of these recipes, be sure to send me a photo of the result, or post it to the Ancient History Facebook page. You can also find out more about Manon and her company on her website (in Dutch).

Owen Rees deals with ancient bread and has also included a recipe for you to try out. Matthew Beazley covers the topic of Roman dining habits, with a particular emphasis on Trimalchio’s Feast (from the Satyricon by Gaius Petronius). Matthew Lloyd’s article is on wine and inebriation in ancient times. Erich Anderson covers garum, a type of fish sauce that was commonly used throughout the Roman Empire.

While most of the articles deal with food and drink in the Graeco-Roman world, Sarah Rijziger writes about food in Yemen before the coming of Islam. I added a short article on the Mediterranean triad (cereals, olives, and the vine), as well as a brief two-page article that gives some suggestions for further reading (rather than include reviews of books that deal with unrelated topics). All in all, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the scope of the theme-related articles.

But there’s also plenty to dig into that doesn’t deal with food. Lauren van Zoonen has written a brief two-page article on one of the most famous statues of the ancient world: the beautiful Aphrodite of Melos, perhaps better known as the Venus of Milo. Danièle Cybulskie has written a fun article on the Roman toga and how to wear it. Lovers of philosophy should check out Gert Knepper’s discussion of whether or not Diagoras of Melos was an atheist, as well as Kees Alders’s final article in his series on ancient Greek philosophy.

Finally, Peter Konieczny contributed a list of the ten strangests deaths of Roman Emperors. He also wrote a piece about the cover illustration by Radu Oltean, which shows the inside of a Roman tavern. I took the opportunity to write the first in what will be a new regular feature in the magazine called ‘The Myth’, and what better subject to discuss first than the Greek heroine Atalanta.

If the above sounded appetizing, you can pre-order Ancient History issue 8 now. Of course, you can also opt to subscribe to the magazine if you don’t have a subscription already. I’ve got loads of interesting themes planned out for more than a year’s worth of issues, including royalty in the ancient world, Pompeii, death in ancient Egypt, sex and love in the ancient world, and Sparta. Check out the editorial plan to learn more.

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