SOPHIA: What will you do after you finish visiting this exhibition? Do some grocery shopping with your parents on the way home? Have a snack outside? Maybe you have a banana in your bag right now for after you leave the exhibition.
These 3 terracotta figurines show us that the Ancient Greeks thought about food just as much as we do, but they couldn’t just pop down to the shops. In fact, they couldn’t even have a banana!
Today, we eat food from all over the world. But the Ancient Greeks didn’t have access to foods from very distant continents, which you know today – like lemons, bananas, potatoes and even tomatoes – which all first grew in the areas we now know as India, Asia and South America. Wait! Can you imagine a life without hot chips and tomato sauce? OMG! Deep breaths, Sophia!
But if the Ancient Greeks didn’t have supermarkets, where did they get their food? Look at these figures and have a guess.
What’s the toy figure with the movable arms and waist doing? If you said rolling dough, you’re probably right. Ancient Greeks had to make a lot of their own food from the grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables they bought from the markets.
What about the other two figures? What are they doing? There’s a figure on a donkey with big, round things strapped to its sides. What are they? Have you seen big, round things in a deli? Maybe … wheels of cheese? This cheesemaker is taking his cheese to the market. Cheese was very expensive and a treat for most people.
The other figure is a bit trickier. There’s a boy with a bird on his shoulder. Guess what he’s doing!
If you guessed ‘preparing a pig to be sacrificed to the gods’, then a billion points for you.
Meat, like cheese, was also really expensive. Most Ancient Greeks only got to eat it on a feast day, when animals like the one shown here were killed and offered to the gods for good harvests, or good luck.
But here’s the thing most people don’t know … when they sacrificed food to the gods, they sacrificed the dodgy bits and kept the good stuff for themselves – like they’d give the guts and skin to the gods and keep the steak themselves. It’s a bit like buying a chocolate bar, eating it and giving the gods the wrapper! I wonder if the gods noticed?
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Date published: 17 December 2021