Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cheers to History!

Currently I'm reading "A History of The World in 6 Glasses" by Tom Standage. So far it's fantastic! It follows the history of humanity through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola and is filled with lots of fun facts (like why we clink glasses and why we toast each other on special occasions).

I especially appreciate the chapters on wine and beer. There is a lot of historical detail in this book, and it's really helped me in writing my story. It's clear Standage really did his homework.

So if you are an author of historical fiction and want to know how drink affected the time you're writing about or just love to fill your head with trivia, I HIGHLY recommend this book!

Here are a few fun facts right from the source:

1) "Mesopotamian brewers could control the tast and color of beer by adding different amounts of bappir, or beer-bread. To make it, sprouted barley was shaped into lumps which were baked twice to produce a dark crunchy unleavened bread that could be stored for years before being crumbled into the brewer's vat."

2) "'To make a beer hall' and 'to sit in the beer hall' were popular Egyptian expressions that meant to have a good time or to carouse, while the Sumerian expression a 'pouring of beer' referred to a banquet or celebratory feast.."

3) "The earliest physical evidence for [wine], in the form of reddish residue inside a pottery jar, comes from Hajji Firuz Tepe, a Neolithic village in the Zagros Mountains [in Northern Iran]."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wiki Wash Out

For those of you who doubt the idiocy of relying on Wikipedia and ONLY Wikipedia, I submit to you this golden nugget on Pausanias:

"Pausanias (Greek Παυσάνιας) Nephew of Leonidas the Spartan king who commanded the land force at Platea in 479bc. Was co-king with Leotychidas. King of Sparta from 409 BC. In 395 BC, Pausanias failed to join forces with Lysander, and for this was condemned to death and replaced as king by his nephew Agesipolis I.

Pausanias escaped execution and left Sparta to live in exile in Tegea. He also traveled in the Persian Empire, and married a Persian princess. At some point he returned to Sparta, where he eventually perished. The Spartans had trapped him in the temple of Minerva, by placing a large stone by the door. It is believed his own mother helped to carry the stone to the door. His people destroyed the roof of the temple, as it was hoped that this would initiate a faster death."

I'm surprised it also doesn't claim that as king he travelled around Greece taking notes. Eegads.