Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat


Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: University of California Press Pages: 392 Illustrations and other contents: 32 b-w photos, 1 line art, 4 maps Language: English ISBN: 9780520303638 Categories: , , , , , ,

The foods we eat have a deep and often surprising past. Many foods we consume today–from almonds and apples to tea and rice–have histories can be traced along the tracks of the Silk Road out of prehistoric Central Asia to European kitchens and American tables. Organized trade along the Silk Road dates to at least Han Dynasty China in the second century B.C., but the exchange of goods, ideas, cultural practices, and genes along these ancient trading routes extends back five thousand years. Balancing a broad array of archaeological, botanical, and historical evidence, Fruit from the Sands presents the fascinating story of the origins and spread of agriculture across Inner Asia and into Europe and East Asia. Through the preserved remains of plants in archaeological sites, Robert N. Spengler III identifies the regions where our most familiar crops were domesticated and follows their routes as people carried them around the world. Vividly narrated, Fruit from the Sands explores how the foods we eat have shaped the course of human history and transformed consumption all over the globe.

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"An excellent example of a comprehensive and entertaining historical and botanical review, providing an enjoyable and cognitive read for scientists, general public, students and policy makers." * Nature * "Combines the studies of history, archaeology, and botany in an excellent account of where many of our foodstuffs originate, showing how they became distributed over most of Eurasia." * CHOICE * "Spengler tells a fascinating tale of a culinary past that is just beginning to come into focus. . . .Provides lots of food for thought." * Science News * "An entertaining and thought provoking historical, botanical and archaeological review of a vast swathe of the Old World. It is accessible for specialists and the general public alike, and should be read by policy makers as well, with a mind to thinking about agricultural diversity and sustainability." * Central Asian Archaeological Landscapes * "A book that you are likely to turn to again and again for that extra bit of insight into the story behind the food on your plate, which is the true test of great plants-and-people 'story-telling'." * Botany One * "The volume is truly a mine of information. This book is a must for anybody interested in food, cultural diversity, archaeology, exchange networks and the impact of modern globalisation on food and cultural homogenisation." * Antiquity * "The acts of buying, cooking, or studying food are enriched by the historical and scientific background that the author provided after serious consideration of aspects related to botany, history, and geography." * Graduate Journal of Food Studies * "The unique contribution of this book is its ability to bring evidence from archaeological plant remains to life, in a style that could be readily appreciated by readers with a variety of interests." * Plant Science Bulletin *

Author Biography

Robert N. Spengler III is the Archaeobotany Laboratory Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, a Volkswagen/Mellon Foundations Fellow, and a former Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.