The Ancient King of the Sea

Dunkleosteus could concentrate a force of up to 8,000 pounds (3,628 kg) per square inch at the tip of its mouth, effectively placing Dunkleosteus in the league of Tyrannosaurus rex and modern crocodiles as having the most powerful known bite. It was one of the earliest jawed fishes. Instead of actual teeth, Dunkleosteus possessed two long, bony blades that could slice through flesh and snap and crush bones.

Dunkleosteus was a large Placoderm that lived in the late Devonian period, about 380–360 million years ago. It grew up to 10 meters (33 feet) and was possibly the the size of a great white shark, making it most likely the top predator of its time.

The only remains of Dunkleosteus are it’s head armor pictured above.


Garum —- The official condiment of the ancient Roman Empire

In the ancient Roman world a salty, oily condiment made from fermented fish guts took the Roman Empire by storm.  Called garum, it became an important commodity all over the empire, providing fats, protein, salts, vitamin, minerals, and most importantly flavor to places in the empire were little could be found.  Originally a Greek creation, the Roman obsession with garum would propel the fish sauce to become the most popular condiment in the Roman Empire.

Our modern society is a very wasteful society, we take it for granted that we can just use something and throw it away.  However, our ancestors had a completely different attitude.  Nothing went to waste and everything was put to use.  “Waste not, want not” was not simply a saying, but a mantra that meant life or death, prosperity or disaster for ancient people’s.  So if an animal was slaughtered, it was guaranteed that every part was consumed or used in some way. 

Garum was a result of this culture.  When the fishmongers gutted the daily catch, the guts were not merely thrown away, rather they were gathered by the garum maker.  The guts were coated with salt, layered in large urns, and left out to heat in the sun for one to three months.  During this time the ingredients would liquefy and ferment, forming a thick paste.  When ready, a clear amber colored fluid would separate for the thicker material.  This clear fluid was pure garum, and was skimmed, bolted, and sold for a hefty price.  The skimming of more fluid would lead to cloudier and less pure forms of garum, which were much cheaper.  The remaining paste was called “allum”, and was sold as a budget “poor mans garum sauce”.  All grades of garum were flavored with different herbs and spices, depending on local tastes.

Because the Roman Empire was centered in the Mediterranean, the Roman economy was also heavily dependent on fishing.  Numerous fisheries and ports dotted all along the Mediterranean coast, and where there fisheries, there were garum makers.  Usually, however, the garum makers were relegated to the outskirts of a city, as the process of garum making tended to create an enormous stench.  Garum itself became one of the most important commodities of the Roman world, being shipped all over Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.  It was issued regularly as rations for Roman soldiers and was even accepted as money.  Garum was also valued for its medicinal value; used to treat dog bites, diarrhea, ulcers, dysentery, to remove unwanted hair, and to remove freckles.

Alas the fall of the Roman Empire would lead to the fall of garum, especially as Germanic peoples who turned their noses at fermented fish sauce settled Europe and carved out kingdoms from the former Roman Empire.  Today garum still can be found, though only produced by small business who cater to specialty gourmet foods.  At around the same time the Romans were making garum, peoples in Southeast Asia were making a remarkably similar fish sauce called  nước mắm, which today is still widely popular in Vietnamese, Thai, and Cambodian cuisine.

From Ancient Times Portrait.

I met this sweet and old grandma in benaras while I was excavating narrow lanes by the ghats. I came to the area where every house had a fish painted on outer wall in variety of forms - it was fishers colony. There as I saw this lady who looked liked as if from last century looking at her face lined with years of living she had. I sat beside her and asked her few questions. She was very talkative, she told me about her family and other things of which I was only able to understand a bit as she was talking in very fluent bhojpuri. However I have recorded the audio of her talk. I love travelling, its as if I am exploring myself through knowing others.

#portrait #old #age #lady #wrinkles #benaras #varanasi #bhojpuri #uttarpradesh #india #streetphotography #streets #documentary #photojournalism #blackandwhite #bnw #fish #ancient

Ancient egyptian Tilapia Fish, 1300 BC. Carnelian, gold. Walters Art Museum

This pendant depicts a common species in the Nile. It was appreciated for its taste, and was also regarded as a symbol of rebirth and resurrection because it carries its eggs in its mouth and was, therefore, believed to be self-created. Carnelian was very popular in the New Kingdom and was used for rings, pendants, and other jewelry.

Egyptian Bronze Oxyrynchus Fish - Late Period, circa 664-332 BC

The Oxyrynchus is species of fish of the Nile River which was important in Egyptian mythology as the fish that ate the penis of Osiris, though it is not known today exactly which species of fish this was. The fish is shown wearing a crown of uraei with a horned solar disc.

More on the myth of Osiris…

Sumerian Fossil Shell Pendant Amulet with The Sun Deity “Shamash” Symbol & Fish Deity, c. 2200-2000 B.C.

Engraved with the symbol of “Shamash” of a sun disk below a snake, rays & hills, on one side stands a fish-deity with human face, on the other side a stag with branching horns. Pierced with two holes for suspension as a pendant.

Very Rare Electrum Stater from Kyzikos, Mysia c. 500-450 BC

The coin shows a winged deer with a tunny fish below; an incuse quadripartite square is on the reverse.

Kyzikos (Cyzicus) was a city in the region of Mysia in the northwest of ancient Asia Minor or Anatolia (modern Balıkesir Province, Turkey).
The city was said to have been founded by Pelasgians from Thessaly, according to tradition at the coming of the Argonauts; later it received many colonies from Miletus, allegedly in 756 BC, but its importance began only after the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), when the decay of Athens and Miletus set in.

What Did Ancient Egyptians Really Eat?

by Alexander Hellemans, Inside Science

Did the ancient Egyptians eat like us? If you’re a vegetarian, tucking in along the Nile thousands of years ago would have felt just like home.

In fact, eating lots of meat is a recent phenomenon. In ancient cultures vegetarianism was much more common, except in nomadic populations. Most sedentary populations ate fruit and vegetables.

Although previous sources found the ancient Egyptians to be pretty much vegetarians, until this new research it wasn’t possible to find out the relative amounts of the different foods they ate. Was their daily bread really daily? Did they binge on eggplants and garlic? Why didn’t someone spear a fish?

A French research team figured out that by looking at the carbon atoms in mummies that had lived in Egypt between 3500 B.C. and 600 A.D. you could find out what they ate.

Keep reading


Anatolian ‘Master of Animals’ Cylinder Seal, c. 1800 BC

A black jasper cylinder with intaglio motif of a long-haired figure seizing two ibexes by the antlers, with nine other birds, fish, and a sphinx in the field, additional trees and plants.