BAR Test Kitchen

Eat like the ancients

This BAR feature hopes to introduce you to a new—yet old—kind of cooking. If you have ever wanted to eat like an ancient person, whether Babylonian, Roman, or Syrian, now you can. We’ve tracked down ancient recipes and tried to recreate them using modern ingredients, so that you, too, can enjoy these dishes. Join us on a gastronomical adventure!


Photo: Kirsten Holman/Evergreen Visions.

Tah’u Stew

Eat like an ancient Babylonian with this savory recipe for tah’u stew, which calls for lamb shank, beer, beets, onions, and a number of other vegetables. Discovered on Yale Babylonian Collection Tablet number 4644, the recipe is written in Akkadian and dates to c. 1750 B.C.E. Perhaps you may better appreciate ancient Mesopotamian culture over a bowl of Tah’u Stew.

Click here to get the recipe for Tah’u Stew >>



Photo: Kirsten Holman/Evergreen Visions.

Roman Custard

Next on the menu is a sweet custard from ancient Rome. The recipe comes from the only Roman cookbook that has survived from antiquity, De Re Coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking), written by Apicius—a pseudonym, as Apicius was a nickname for “gourmet.” Made of eggs, honey, and milk, this delicious custard is sure to delight the diner.

Click here to get the recipe for Roman Custard >>



mersuFor this pastry dish, we journeyed back to the Bronze Age site of Mari, Syria (c. 1775–1761 B.C.E.). Mersu was an ancient type of “cake” that involved mixing flour with a liquid (water, milk, oil, beer, or even butter). Various inclusions (dates, pistachios, figs, raisins, and spices, such as cumin and coriander) were sometimes added. BAR’s variation is sweetened with dates and pistachios. Enjoy!

Click here to get the recipe for Mersu >>

The free eBook Life in the Ancient World guides you through craft centers in ancient Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and articles on ancient practices—from dining to makeup—across the Mediterranean world.

More on ancient food in Bible History Daily:

14,400-Year-Old Flatbreads Unearthed in Jordan

Biblical Bread: Baking Like the Ancient Israelites by Cynthia Shafer-Elliott

Fruit in the Bible by David Moster

The 10 Strangest Foods in the Bible by David Moster


1 Responses

  1. Suzanne M Paroski says:

    Love this! I’d like to see more!

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend