On a recent business trip to Zurich, I had the opportunity to tour two of the city’s great repositories of Swiss history and culture: the Museum Rietberg and the Landesmuseum Zürich (English: Swiss National Museum). Both house sumptuous works of art and special rotating exhibitions.
The flavors and aromas of ancient Persia and India converge in Parsi cuisine. In this exclusive interview, Niloufer Mavalvala, author of The Art of Parsi Cooking: Reviving an Ancient Cuisine, introduces us to the culture and the tastes of the Parsis.
JW: Niloufer, thanks for speaking with me about your new title. For our readers who do not know anything about the Parsis, could you share a bit of little history and explain the importance of their journey from what is present-day Iran to India and Pakistan?
NM: Prophet Zarathushtra Spitama lived in ancient Persia over 2,000 years ago, and the main keystones of his religion are “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” After the Arabs invaded Iran in the seventh century CE, many Zoroastrians fled religious persecution and sought refuge in India. The Indians referred to the newcomers as “Parsis” or “people from Pars,” implying that they were “Persian.” As part of the asylum agreement, the “Parsis” agreed to adopt the local language, dress and customs, thereby developing a unique cuisine that blended their traditional dishes with new spices, fruits and vegetables available in India, and later in Pakistan.
The world contains numerous cultures, traditions, cuisines and languages that make excellent destinations for any history buff. The featured countries’ rich history and heritage evoke images of the days gone by and lure hundreds of tourists to taste their interesting cultures.
Get a Taste of Italian Culture
Known for its rich art and architecture, Italy has inspired the architecture of many Western nations. Be it Michelangelo’s statue of David or Leonardo da Vinci’s eternal portrait of the Mona Lisa, these artworks are beyond excellence and people from across the world still stand in large queues to glimpse these masterpieces. Some of the world’s famous structures like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Colosseum and Sistine Chapel call Italy their home.
It’s not just the art and architecture that attracts thousands of tourists to this beautiful country — it’s also a love for traditional Italian music and dance. Hordes of music lovers, singers, and musicians gather from different corners of the world to be part of country’s rich heritage. You will be amazed to know that today’s world-famous opera has its roots in Italy.
Italians are also famous for their fashion sense. Some of the world’s famous luxury fashion brands such as Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Prada, Gucci, and Versace were born in Italy. Italian cuisine has also today made its mark on the menus of world’s top notch restaurants.
If you are on an exploration trip of world’s history and culture, Italy should be top on your exploration list.
Walk Through Lanes of Greece Lost in History
Greece has always been on the radar of historians, archaeologists, and curious travelers. Since ancient times, Greece has left its mark in various domains, be it art, music, philosophy, literature, or politics. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are considered to be the Fathers of philosophy who brought about change in the common man’s thinking and those works were a step towards development in science, astronomy, physics and mathematics.
Greece also has many different styles of designs and architectural forms that greatly influenced Roman architecture. They were the first to build based on geometric calculations. The Temple of Athena and Theatre of Epidaurus are a testimony to Greece’s excellent architectural work.
The culture of Greece has evolved over years and today Greeks take pride in having successfully overcome their turbulent past. A trip to Greece is surely an eye opener for many tourists and history buffs alike.
Discover Peru’s Archaeological and Cultural Treasures
Art has always been an integral part of Peru culture, even though the styles have gone through significant changes over different ages. Besides its art, Peru is also home to some of the world’s richest heritages and archaeological gems – Machu Picchu is one of them that needs no introduction. The country’s plethora of sites dating back to the pre-Incan civilization lures thousands of curious tourists, history buffs, scientists and archaeologists; the enigmatic Nazca Lines still remain a mystery today.
Explore India’s diversities
India’s history dates back 5,000 years. The country has been ruled by several dynasties, each one leaving its mark with its architectural masterpieces. From Mughal monuments in Agra and Delhi to magnificent forts and palaces in Rajasthan to Dravidian temples in Kerala and Karnataka to rock cut cave temples, there is no end to India’s architectural marvels.
Architecture, music, dances, and festivities have always been an inseparable part of India’s rich culture and traditions. With each state specializing in its own folk music and dances, it would take a lifetime to gather an insight in all these cultural extravaganzas.
A trip to India is a must for those seeking a paramount exposure to varied traditions, customs and cultures of the world’s greatest diversified society.
Go off the Beaten Track in Cambodia
The culture of Cambodia has been strongly influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. The Angkor period lasting between the 9th and 14th century CE marked a golden age for the country during which it saw great advancement in its art, architecture, and music. Architects and sculptors of the Angkor era created many unmatched pieces of artwork that drew strong inspiration from mythical creatures of Hindu and Buddhist cultures – the Angkor Wat Temple is a great example of this era.
The country still holds an old-fashioned charm and the warm and hospitable people of Cambodia are its true treasure. A visit to this South-Asian country is sure to touch your heart.
Uncover the Mysteries of Buddhism in Bhutan
The world’s last remaining Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan, is known for its ancient Buddhist culture and traditions that have been successfully preserved to this day. Buddhism spread its roots in Bhutan during the 7th century CE, when many monasteries and Buddhist temples came into existence. For an ardent explorer, a trip to Bhutan is a must to get an insight in the country’s mystic cultures and customs. Artwork and paintings based on themes and legends related to life of Buddha give you a deep understanding of Bhutanese rich traditions. Uniquely shaped monasteries, temples and Dzongs with elaborate motifs, carvings and wall paintings boast of Bhutan’s exclusive architecture.
Festivities are an integral part of Bhutanese culture. Chaam dances, colorful costumes, and elaborate spread of traditional food and wine during these festivals display rich cultural heritage of this Himalayan country.
While Bhutan still maintains its ancient Buddhist traditions, it has whole-heartedly embraced modern development and advancement. Where other countries measure their progress through GDP, Bhutan measures it through ‘Gross National Happiness’ – no wonder why it is called the land of mysteries!
Learn about Pharaonic History in Egypt
Egypt is known to be one of the earliest civilizations in the world with its history dating back 6,000 years or more. The country’s ancient treasures such as the Pyramids of Giza and temples of Luxor, Karnak, and Abu-Simbel, built during the time of the pharaohs, have drawn many tourists and history buffs. One of the biggest fascinations about Egypt is its legacy of mummies which can still be seen today in Egyptian Museum of Cairo.
Besides architecture, literature has also been an important part of Egypt’s culture. Symbolic writings can be seen on temple, tombs and pyramids walls.
Those with a keen interest in ancient civilizations will also find Egypt to be a paradise.
Jade Koekoe, Blog Editor of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), recently spoke with novelist Dr. Roger Kenworthy, to discuss his series Memoirs of Nathanial Kenworthy. Roger writes historical fiction covering topics such as ancient history, adventure, reincarnation, time travel that is based on a variety of ancient cultures.
On Friday evenings from 6:00-10:00 PM, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City becomes a lively social venue with a full bar, series of special public lectures or tours, and complimentary gallery admission. In January, Ancient History Encyclopedia’s Communications Director, James Blake Wiener, partook in the museum’s end of the week festivities and learned a curious thing or two about Tibetan art along the way.
One of the most important discoveries in marine archaeological history occurred in 1998, just off Indonesia’s Belitung Island in the western Java Sea: A 1,200-year-old Arabian dhow with an astounding cargo of gold, silver, ceramic artifacts, coins, and tangible personal effects. The ship’s hold contained some 57,000 pieces in total and yet no human remains. The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route, now on show at the newly opened Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, explores the movement of cross-cultural exchange, trade, and technology between the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258 CE) and Tang dynasty China (618-907 CE) through the prism of an ancient shipwreck.In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Mr. John Vollmer, Guest Curator for the Aga Khan Museum’s presentation of this exhibition, about the importance of the objects in this exhibition and what the exhibition means to the recently opened museum.
Yoga is practiced daily by millions worldwide, but few are cognizant of its origins and relative importance to Indian culture and identity. Although its history is long and complex, yoga reflects the rich philosophical and cultural currents that traversed the Indian subcontinent over thousands of years.
In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Mr. Jeff Durham, Assistant Curator of Himalayan Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, about Yoga: The Art of Transformation and Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism, which are currently on view at the Asian Art Museum.
The reconstruction of ancient recipes challenges experimental archaeologists and chefs alike, while concurrently offering unique glimpses into the culinary tastes of diverse ethnic groups. Ms. Laura Kelley, author and founder of The Silk Road Gourmet blog, analyzes the links between recipes, civilizations, and trade across great distances and over long periods of time. As a frequent traveler, Laura first noted the commonalities between recipes and cooking methods, which in turn provided the catalyst for her research as an independent scholar.
In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Laura about her interest in cooking — past and present — as well as how she has been able to reconstruct recipes from ancient Central Asia, Mesopotamia, and Rome.