As part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the British School at Athens and Branding Heritage, a not-for-profit cultural organization, with the support of the Region of Crete, organized “Cooking Like Minoans”, an event inspired by the Cretan Bronze Age diet.
The event forms part of the activities of the BSA intended to support and enhance the study of Hellenic culture and to engage the public in order to share academic knowledge and make it more widely relevant. The event was honoured by the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, the BSA’s Patron, the Hellenic Minister of Culture, Lydia Koniordou, the British Ambassador, HE Kate Smith CMG, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Maria Vlazaki, the Mayor of Heraklion, Vassilis Lambrinos, the Governor of the Crete Region, Stavros Arnaoutakis and other important figures from the fields of academia, business, art and journalism.
The central feature of the event was the preparation of food following ancient practices, as reconstructed from the archaeological evidence by archaeologist Jerolyn Morrison (PhD, University of Leicester). As an expert on Prehistoric Aegean cuisine, Dr Morrison combined nutritional raw materials, remains of which have been discovered in Cretan Bronze Age contexts, to create delicious dishes. Her “performance” is an example of how archaeological evidence, in combination with ethnoarchaeological approaches, can help reconstruct past practices, connecting past and present. The dishes, prepared in Minoan style cooking pots made by Dr Morrison, were lentils with garlic, coriander and honey; pork with grape molasses (petmezi) and pear; pork with sage; lamb with trachanas; and chicken with vine leaves and figs. The meal was prepared using Cretan products generously provided by Creta Farms, Xalkiadakis Supermarkets and Minoan Spora. The wines were kindly provided by Lyrarakis Winery. APIVITA offered guests products and essential oils made from Greek fruit and herbs, while Creta Farms and Minoan Spora also offered a series of their products.
The feast was followed by short talks by the Director of the British School at Athens, John Bennet, and Knossos Curator, Kostis Christakis, on the history of the Knossos Research Centre from Sir Arthur Evans’s excavations to the present day, and its role in the diachronic study and promotion of Cretan civilisation. There was also a display of clay vessels held in the Knossos Stratigraphical Museum collection associated with food preparation and consumption, dating from the Protopalatial period to Roman times (22nd c. BC – 3rdcent AD). Issues of ceramic technology were discussed, together with its development over the centuries and how the study of pottery can shed light on economic, social and ideological aspects of past cultures. Anna Moles (PhD candidate, UCL) presented skeletal material of Hellenistic and Roman times from BSA excavations at Knossos and spoke about the contribution of osteoarchaeology to the reconstruction of dietary behaviours and health status. Danae Lange and Eleni Makrygiorgou presented the Knossso Stratigraphical Museum Curation Project, a project the aim of which is to preserve the rich collections of the Museum, collections going back to the 7th millennium, produce a new storage and documentation system and facilitate the development of new research projects.
The British School at Athens thanks warmly all who contributed to the successful organisation of the event: Katerina Frentzou, President of Branding Heritage, and sponsors Aegean Airlines, APIVITA, G. & A. Mamidakis Foundation, Creta Farms, Militos Consulting S.A, Minoan Lines, Minoan Tastes, Minoan Spora, Lovegreece.com, Lyrarakis Winery, WhiteCover, Xalkiadakis Supermarkets and Siganos Catering. Special thanks are due to Mara Panagiotaki, the President of the Knossos Cultural Association and to Olga Stavropoulou, Georgia Micheli and Elisavet Aggelakopoulou (Militos Consulting S.A), Mariana Mavroforaki and Christina Tsastaragkou (Branding Heritage), Vassilis Goumas (WhiteCover) and Manolis Kritsotakis, and Kleopatra Tzovartzi, Xipolitas Ioannis, Frasari Katerina and Maltezakis Giorgos (Minoan Tastes), the staff of the Knossos Research Centre, Zaxaria Pexinakis and Rania Pelekanaki, as well as Anna Mevruz Haxhillari and Roula Dretaki. Their contribution was crucial and they have our warmest thanks.