Spices in the Ancient World

Cobb, Matthew (2024) Spices in the Ancient World. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Food Studies. (In Press)

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The movement and consumption of spices and aromatics has been a feature of human history for many millennia. They have been found in contexts as diverse as early Iron Age Phoenician flasks, containing traces of cinnamon, to black peppercorns inserted into Rameses II’s nose cavity, as part of the mumification process. Traditionally these plant (and occasionally animal and mineral) products have been viewed as the preserve of the elite, at least in the Mediterranean world and parts of Europe where many of them do not naturally grow. However, by the early centuries CE, thanks to a growing web of connections spanning Afro-Eurasia, especially via the Indian Ocean, a much wider range of peoples got a chance to experience spices. This impacted on everything from how their food tasted and smelled to the way in which religious and funerary rituals were performed. Advances in archaeobotany and the archaeological sciences enable us to build an increasingly more complex picture of the contexts in which spice consumption took place, the connected social paraphernalia that was associated with this, and the diversity of people involved. Moreover, these methods and bodies of data are also contributing to our identification of the spices and aromatics that were being consumed, adding more detail to the sometimes hazy picture provided by our ancient authors.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: spices, aromatics, Roman cuisine, ancient Afro-Eurasia, black pepper, cinnamon
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Matthew Cobb
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2024 10:43
Last Modified: 09 May 2024 14:00
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/2934

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