Cooking, Eating, and Drinking

… clay cookware …

In our culture we expect cookware to be of hard metal or fancy glossy ceramics. Before the 20th century, it was normally unglazed earthenware. Unglazed pots absorb flavour from the foods cooked in them, and they eventually shatter or crumble, but they were cheap and could be made in any village. Iron or bronze pots and pans were treasures not something everyone used everyday. Iron and bronze vessels are light for their size and unbreakable, so they are a good choice for travellers. The everyday earthware vessels are often labeled “coarse ware” or “common ware” and appear in vast quantities in graves, sanctuaries, rubbish dumps and sites which suffered a disaster; they don’t get such a prominent place on book covers and in art history books.

“Ethnoarchaeology” can be a good keyword for books which look at how people today shape, fire, and use simple ceramics.

A household pottery set from Sardis https://ids.lib.harvard.edu/ids/view/400579600
Encyclopaedia Iranica “CERAMICS xi. The Achaemenid Period” http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ceramics-xi
Persepolis II
Stronach Pasargadae
Fleming, “Eggshell Ware”
Aristophanes Acharnians on packing pottery in straw for shipment
Aristophanes Acharnians on what Greek soldiers and civilians eat

… iron spits and skewers (obeloi or obeliskoi, Xen. Hell. 3.3.7) …
… griddles …
… cheese graters (Aristophanes Lysistrata! but also in The Original Mediterranean Cuisine, Dan Diffendale saw one from Populonia, Poggio della Porcareccia, Tomba dei Flabelli in Florence)
… tripods …
… cookpots …
… frying pans? …
… camp ovens? …
… mortars and pestles (Ikea carries a nice model in marble suitable for nuts and spices) …
… sieves and strainers (earthware/bronze/silver) …
… rhytons …
… Achaemenid bowls …
… wooden bowls: U. 6665, Pazyryk, Chärchän
… wooden goblets: Ur grave, Chärchän

Modern sites often ban cutting turf and building an open fire on the ground, or limit fires to predefined firepits. This requires various compromises (often involving hauling heavy clay or sheet-steel foundations) which experienced reenactors can show you. You can find some advice from cooks and potters on making and using unglazed earthenware in the Kelticos thread Ancient Crafts: Other < Pottery Experiments.

Lee could not find any clay canteens from Greek sites before Alexander: some glazed ‘piligrim’s flasks’ are small enough, 100-200 mL volume, that they are probably for oil or spices (Greek Army on the March p. 125).

Russel M. Geer, “On the Use of Ice and Snow for Cooling Drinks.” The Classical Weekly Vol. 29, No. 8 (1935) pp. 61-62
Andrew Dalby, Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece (London and New York, 1996)

Aristophanes, Acharnians “here a brawl about the election of a Trierarch; elsewhere pay is being distributed, the Pallas figure-heads are being regilded, crowds are surging under the market porticos, encumbered with wheat that is being measured, wine-skins, oar-leathers, garlic, olives, onions in nets; everywhere are chaplets, sprats, flute-girls, black eyes”

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