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Current Affairs

Link between Mediterranean and South Asian die

Date: 30 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

 Researchers studying the eating habits of people in the southern Levant region during the Bronze and Early Iron Age have found evidence of foods from South Asia, including bananas, sesame and turmeric.

 

Background

Bananas are among the most consumed fruits around the globe, but there is new archaeological evidence to suggest they became part of the wider global diet much earlier than once believed. 

 

Details

  • This new finding shows the Levant region had been trading with South Asia, where bananas, sesame and turmeric were widely cultivated, as early as 3,500-4000 years ago.

  • The finding suggests complexity and intensity of Indo-Mediterranean trade during the Bronze Age as well as the degree of globalisation in early Eastern Mediterranean cuisine.

  • This means that the development of certain crucial elements of modern Levantine cuisine, such as the sesame seed paste known as tahini and ras el-hanout, a spice mix that includes turmeric, can be traced back to this early period.

  • The evidence on which the study is based comes from the dental calculus or calcified dental plaque drawn from the teeth of 14 skulls.

  • Dental calculus is now considered an invaluable source of insight into the way ancient peoples lived. Dental calculus has been found to trap a lot of evidence, from DNA to food molecules to bacteria, and helps shed light on a number of different things.

The Levant

  • The Levant is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia.

  • It includes  present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and most of Turkey south-east of the middle Euphrates.

  • In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the Eastern Mediterranean with its islands, countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica in eastern Libya.