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Translating 4,000 year old recipes

A team of international scholars versed in culinary history, food chemistry and cuneiform (the Babylonian system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia--what is today parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey) have been working to recreate four of the world’s oldest-known recipes.

Bringing the recipes back to life is no easy task. Some of the tablets are crumbing and not very descriptive. Most interestingly, the scholars noticed that a recipe's essential ingredients haven't drastically changed over time. Some recipes show that there was contact between neighboring cultures from which they borrowed ingredients. Dishes that are now staples in Iraq were also staples in 4,000 years ago, surprising given the infinite variety of food.

Now all we need is this recipe and a good open fire pit to cook on.

Credit: Yale Babylonian Collection


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