Excavations in Turkey's southwest reveal Anatolian food culture

Excavations in Turkey's southwest reveal Anatolian food culture

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency
Excavations in Turkeys southwest reveal Anatolian food culture Roman-era cooks used double baskets and pressure steam cookers to prepare their food, according to findings from the ancient city of Tlos in southwestern Turkey, an academic leading the excavations has said.

“Starting from the Roman era, we saw that double basket and pressure steam cookers were used to cook dishes. These cookers, called kerotakis, were first used in the first and second centuries,”Akdeniz University Archaeology Department academic and Tlos excavation head Professor Taner Korkut said, adding that their work had revealed ceramic saucepans, pans, plates, glasses, pitchers and serving dishes.

Korkut said guests were served dishes on different plates during the Hellenistic age and that the plates were more luxurious than those used in daily life. 

The professor, who specializes in research on eating habits since ancient times, said the gastronomical culture of Anatolia dates back 12,000 years ago. 

He said they initiated the Tlos excavations 10 years ago and learned that cereal-like barley and wheat were used 10,500 years ago in Anatolia, as were a variety of plant species that are also currently in use. 

Korkut said they had observed that many people, particularly residents of mountainous places in the western province of Muğla’s Seydikemer district, still maintained the traditions in their eating habits. 

He said they had found 130 species of edible plants during interviews with people living in 61 neighborhoods.
Korkut said settlement layers that had been uncovered in the mound in front of Seydikemer’s Girmeler cave was very important, adding that there were many cookers in the mound’s lowest layer, which dates back to the early Neolithic Age 10,500 years ago. 

He said the remains of food in the cookers revealed that people mostly ate animals like rabbit, chevrotain, deer and wild boar. “But in later times, they started choosing agricultural products.”

Varied diet in ancient times

Korkut said foods like phyllo dough, onion, garlic and cheese were generally eaten in the ancient ages. 

“Mostly cereal-based foods and plants were eaten. Maza, which is a kind of phyllo dough made up of barley meal, was always on the table. Also, einkorn flour was used to make phyllo bread in the Roman era and it was called puls. They ate onion, garlic and cheese along with puls. A bread type that was called ortos was first made with barley and then with wheat. It is known that vegetables like cabbage, spinach, chard, hibiscus, asparagus, leeks, onions, beans, sweet peas, lentils and fava beans were used during this age. These vegetables were eaten raw or boiled and mash-like foods were made with legumes. Olive oil was used in almost all Mediterranean dishes. It still continues as a characteristic of the Mediterranean cuisine. The favorite fruits were apple, grape and fig. Grapes were used both in dishes and in wine. Fish dishes prepared with sauces as well as various meat dishes were also eaten,” Korkut said. 

The professor also said the findings about the eating habits of the era would be published in a book once the research is completed.