Consumption, Trade and Innovation: Exploring the Botanical Remains from the Roman and Islamic Ports at Quseir Al-Qadim, Egypt (Journal of African Archaeology Monograph)

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9783937248233: Consumption, Trade and Innovation: Exploring the Botanical Remains from the Roman and Islamic Ports at Quseir Al-Qadim, Egypt (Journal of African Archaeology Monograph)
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Studies of food and foodways are vital to exploring past (and present) cultures. The food remains discovered at the port of Quseir al-Qadim are especially revealing, offering important information about the ancient spice trade and the food practices of those engaged in this trade. Quseir al-Qadim acted as a transhipment port in the Indian Ocean spice trade during both the Roman and medieval Islamic periods. It is located on the Red Sea coast of Egypt and was active between ca. AD 1-250 (Myos Hormos) and again during ca. AD 1050-1500 (Kusayr). This monograph describes the analysis and interpretation of the botanical remains (foodstuffs, wood) recovered during the excavations that took place between 1999-2003, conducted by the University of Southampton, UK. The spectacular preservation conditions at Quseir al-Qadim meant that food remains and wood were found in abundance, including fragments of onion skin, citrus rind, garlic cloves, aubergine seeds, banana skins, wooden bowls, spoons and combs, as well as many of the Eastern spices traded through the port, such as black pepper, ginger, cardamom and betelnut. These remains are fully analysed and discussed under three overarching themes: trade, agricultural innovation and food consumption. The results provide significant new evidence for the Eastern trade and for the changes in agriculture that indirectly resulted from it. They also allow real insights into the lives of those working in the ports. They show the changes in the nature and scale of the Indian Ocean trade between the Roman and Islamic periods, as well as a major shift in the way the inhabitants of the ports saw themselves and located themselves in the wider world. Richly illustrated and thought-provoking, this volume identifies how studies of food enable fuller dialogues regarding 'globalization' and also highlights clearly the importance of food in the dynamics of cultural identity and geopolitics.

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About the Author:

Marijke van der Veen is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Leicester. Her research focuses on ancient agriculture and the archaeology of food, with a specialization in archaeobotany. Current research projects include a reconstruction of foodways and the development of horticulture in north-west Europe. She is author of Crop Husbandry Regimes (1992), and editor of The Exploitation of Plant Resources in Ancient Africa (1999), Luxury Foods (2003), Garden Agriculture (2005) and Agricultural Innovation (2010), the latter three issues of the journal World Archaeology.

Review:

"[This book] combines analyses of plant remains and texts with sociological and anthropological approaches, and for this reason it is set to become a classic in the archaeological literature." --Anna Maria Mercuri, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy (Antiquity 87 (335), March 2013) "This contribution offers a fascinating analysis of cultural borrowing with a spotlight on the importance of food and fuel in the dynamics of political and economic geography, national power, and foreign influence." --Dorothea Bedigian, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA (Economic Botany 66 (2), 2012) "Although technical site reports of this kind are usually published for the use of specialists [...], this book is organized and written in such a way that it can be profitably and enjoyably read by economists, historians, and archaeologists with an interest in the development of the spice trade in the classical and medieval periods [...]." --James L. Boone, University of New Mexico, USA (The Journal of Economic History 72 (2), 2012). "Rarely do scholars 'spice up' their research monographs with the type of prose that invites the general reader to come along and enjoy the culinary tour. Marijke van der Veen has done so in her exemplary publication of the botanical remains from ...Quseir al-Qadim, a bustling port of the Roman and Islamic period on Egypt's Red Sea coast. --Monica L. Smith, University of California, USA (Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 12 (3), 2012). "[This book] will serve as a highly useful device for archaeobotanists, archaeologists and ancient historians investigating both the Roman and Islamic civilizations of the Near East." --Ahmed G. Fahmy, University of Helwan, Egypt (Journal of African Archaeology 9 (2) 2011)

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