A French Researcher Recreates Ancient Egyptian Breadmaking

Feb. 22 2021

In the Hebrew Bible there is ample evidence for the importance of grain-production and bread consumption to the people of ancient Egypt—a picture confirmed from many other sources. There are even clues about what grains were grown; for instance, Exodus 9:31-32 states, “Now the flax and barley were smitten, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud, but the wheat and the emmer were not hurt, for they ripen late.” But more knowledge of how the ancient Egyptians baked their bread might also help understand such questions as what, precisely, happened with Israelites’ dough that necessitated their baking it into matzah. Adeline Bats of the Sorbonne has gone to great lengths to recreate Egyptian breadmaking, as Rossella Tercatin explains:

The question [of how Egyptians baked their bread] puzzled archaeologists for many years, in light of the profusion of cooking-vessel remains and even iconographic evidence that suggested that they baked their dough in conical molds. . . . Organic findings from the relevant archaeological sites indicated two types of grain were cultivated at the time, common barley and emmer wheat.

The researcher carried out several experiments, with different mixtures, temperatures, and humidity levels, with the goal of producing “a perfectly baked bread (with no trace of charring or a semi-baked mushy appearance) that would release itself perfectly from the ceramic without breaking it.” . . . The technique [Bats used involved] covering the inside of the conical bread molds with a layer of fine sandy clay, heating the molds up horizontally and shaping the dough in advance into elongated pieces.

“In my dream, similarly, there were three openwork baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of food for Pharaoh that a baker prepares; and the birds were eating it out of the basket above my head,” Pharaoh’s chief baker tells Joseph in the biblical book of Genesis, as the two find themselves in prison together along with the king of Egypt’s chief cupbearer. Were some of the foods he prepared for Pharaoh baked in a conical mold? This mystery might remain hard to solve.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Exodus, Hebrew Bible

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism