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Culinary archeology....4,000 year old recipes!!

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Ancient AH Pilot, Retired CWO W4.
Dec 31, 2017
Lamb stew anyone?


Excerpt: "Three of Yale’s tablets date to around 1730BC, and a fourth is from about 1,000 years later. All of the tablets are from the Mesopotamian region, which includes Babylon and Assyria – what is today the regions of Iraq south of Baghdad and north of Baghdad, including parts of Syria and Turkey. Of the older three tablets, the most intact is more of a listing of ingredients that amounts to 25 recipes of stews and broths; the other two, containing an additional 10-plus recipes, go further in depth with cooking instructions and presentation suggestions, but those are broken and therefore not as legible. The challenge was to peel back the layers of history while also maintaining authenticity amid the limitations of modern ingredients."


Hired Gun
Staff member
HCL Supporter
Nov 26, 2017
US of A
Weird, in that recipe for Tuh'u I don't see any high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or monosodium glutamate.


Awesome Friend
HCL Supporter
Dec 3, 2017
SE Washington State
The oldest recipes come from Sumer. From the period of 4000 to 3500BCE there are recipes for beer, mead for the people and a fig stew that was reserved for the gods and goddesses of the period.
The fig tree was the "tree of life" and its fruit was the "bread of life". 6000 year old recipes for the most important foods - BEER and WINE!:D


Hermit on the mountain
Feb 1, 2018
What an awesome find, @VenomJockey !

It prompted me to do a little more digging. I found this, which covers the same ancient tablet but this article includes more recipes https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-ancient-writings/babylonian-recipes-0010531

I would imagine that the reason why no specific amounts are mentioned in the recipes is that they were probably so well-known, and all women were taught how to cook since they were young. Sort of like cooking gumbos and jambalayas are to me and my ilk in South Louisiana.

If I make this dish, I will probably substitute fennel for the wild licorice. They taste amazingly similar and I've got some sprigs of fennel greenery growing out of some of the saved root/lower stalks that I have growing in my window. (I'm chewing on a piece as I type this, yum.) If I didn't have that, I would probably try a few crushed fennel seeds.

The juniper berries are available in most well-stocked grocery stores. (Look for the spice section and the "Spice Islands" brand.) Warning: a little goes a long way. Too much will taste like a bad gin nightmare, lol

I would not throw everything in one pot, helter skelter... but would brown diced lamb in fat first, then saute the onion, leek and garlic in the same pan before adding water and other ingredients. Garnish with sour cream or Greek yogurt, topped with sprigs of fennel greenery (instead of wild licorice).

Babylonian Lamb with Licorice and Juniper Berries
“Leg of mutton, but no other meat is used. Prepare water; add fat; dodder [wild licorice] as desired; salt to taste; cypress [juniper berries]; onion; samidu [semolina]; cumin; coriander; leek and garlic, mashed with kisimmu [sour cream or yogurt]. It is ready to serve.”


  • Leg of mutton
  • Water
  • Fat
  • Wild licorice
  • Salt
  • Juniper Berries
  • Onion (sliced)
  • Semolina
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Leek and garlic (mashed)
  • Sour Cream
Last edited:


Awesome Friend
HCL Supporter
Dec 3, 2017
Interesting always liked anything to do with history.

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