July 2018, Mongolia (Part IΙ)

PLANTCULT is connecting with UNESCO’s initiative for the Silk Road Interactive Atlas. Tania Valamoti has joined the Silk Road Interactive Atlas network of experts working on culinary aspects of the Silk Road. The investigation in the context of PLANTCULT of crops like millet and Lallemantia which reach SE Europe from the East during the Bronze Age is pointing towards networks connecting Central Asia with Southeastern Europe already in prehistoric times.

After an adventurous journey from Thessaloniki to Ulaanbaatar (our Turkish Airlines airplane had to return back to Istanbul after 80 minutes in the air due to some technical problem) during which a stop-over took place in Kirgistan’s capital Bishkek, Tania Valamoti representing PLANTCULT and the Dept. of Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, joined the experts participating to the Expert Meeting on the Development of an of an interactive Atlas of Cultural Interactions along the Silk Roads: Food Production and Gastronomy. The meeting took place in the Bayan Gobi Tourist Camp in the Uvurkhangai Province of Mongolia, on the 16th and 17th of July 2018, inside a ger especially organized to host the meeting. This meeting offered an excellent opportunity to meet the United Nations officials involved in the Silk Road Interactive Atlas initiative, meet and discuss with Mongolian archaeologists and scientists involved in the safeguarding of Nomadic lifestyle in Mongolia, experience nomadic life in a ger and have lively discussions with researchers from Mongolia, Turkey, Iran, Korea, China. Greece was represented through Tania Valamoti and the PLANTCULT project people. We tried fermented horse milk, ayrak, we observed the lively finger guessing games and listened to beautiful songs. We also had the opportunity to watch a special documentary on the making of ayrak in Mongolia and learn the special secrets for a good quality ayrak. PLANTCULT is contributing towards the development of the different aspects of the shared culinary heritage developed thanks to the Silk Road interactions.

Image captions (from left to right)

1. Camels and the Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes in the background

2. The Bayan Gobi Tourist Camp

3. Outside Ulaanbaatar’s Archaeological Museum

4. The invited experts for the UNESCO Interactive Atlas of Cultural Interactions along the Silk Road

5. The meeting has just began

 

July 2018, Mongolia (Part I)

PLANTCULT is connecting with UNESCO’s initiative for the Silk Road Interactive Atlas. Tania Valamoti has joined the Silk Road Interactive Atlas network of experts working on culinary aspects of the Silk Road. The investigation in the context of PLANTCULT of crops like millet and Lallemantia which reach SE Europe from the East during the Bronze Age is pointing towards networks connecting Central Asia with Southeastern Europe already in prehistoric times.

Image captions (from left to right)

1. Tania Valamoti together with Giedre Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute outside the ger they shared for the first part of the Silk Road meeting held in Mongolia 15-16 July 2018.

2. PLANTCULT in Mongolia. Celebrating the end of the first day of brainstorming between the UNESCO officials and the experts contributing to the Silk Road Atlas.

3. Stones are being heated in order to cook the meat stew (photo Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute)

4. The meat is now being cooked inside the pot with the hot stones (photo SMV)

5 & 6. Crack of dawn at our camp

 

May 2018, 42nd Conference of the International Society for Archaeometry, Merida, Mexico.

PLANTCULT presented its integrative approach using arhaeometrical approaches as an analytical tool to comprehend past culinary practices related to plant foods In Merida, Mexico, at the 42nd Conference of the International Society for Archaeometry. The conference took place at the impressive building of the University of Yucatan between May 20th and May 26th. More than 200 oral presentations and posters from all over the world were presented at the conference and discussions were stimulating. PLANTCULT contributed two posters, one offering a detailed overview of the project aims and goals as well as on ongoing work conducted in the context of the project, the other presenting the first results of the archaeological and experimental work on prehistoric cooking pots, conducted by project postdoctoral researcher Tassoula Dimoula and the ceramics PLANTCULT team (Zoi Tsirtsoni, Vivi Youni). Both posters attracted interested conference participants from all over the world. Moreover, S.M.Valamoti had the chance to network with fellow researchers conducting investigations in ancient Mayan cuisine.

 

Plant foods appeared as the dominant elements of symbolic expression in several settings in the Grand Museo del Mundo Maya of Merida, the Izamal monastery as well as at the Museum of Teotihuacan, visited after the end of the conference. Offerings consisting of plant foods essential to these communities such as Cucurbits, corn, cacao, and clay representations of corn, cacao and peyote, underline the significance of plant foods for past and present communities in Mesoamerica. During the excursion we had the luck to observe traditional tortilla preparation on the traditional since prehispanic times ‘three-stone hearth’. A more modern version could be observed at the Chaya Maya restaurant in Merida.

 

PLANTCULT made it to Chitzen Itza and Teotihuacan and new perspectives for future collaborations on prehistoric plant foods were opened up. Alongside the archaeology, aspects of modern Mexican cuisine were explored in the local markets of Luca de Galvez (Merida) and Coyoacan -Mexico City: spices and the explosive tastes of mole were unforgettable experience. The next ISA conference will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, in May 2020 by which time we expect that our project final results related to archaeometric lines of evidence (thin section analysis, food residue analysis, scanning electron microscopy for the detection of ancient food) will be presented.

 


December 2017, discussing PLANTCULT with archaeologists in Vienna.

S.M.Valamoti met Dr Kerstin Kowarik and Dr Hans Reschreiter at the Vienna Natural History Museum, discussed mutual interests on prehistoric food and had the privilege of a guided tour to the finds of 'The Kingdom of Salt', i.e. the finds from Hallstatt and its salt mines. Photos show Hans Reschreiter and Tania Valamoti examining the 'end product', i.e. fecal remains, of a meal made of barley, millet and Celtic bean stew including chunks of meat on the bone. Kerstin proudly shows Tania the huge wooden Hallstatt spoon with which stews were stirred during cooking inside the salt mine.

 

Read more: Kern, A., Kowarik K., Rausch, A, Reschreiter, H. 2009. Kingdom of Salt, 7000 years of Hallstatt. Vienna, Natural History Museum.

 

 

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