What connects Bengal and the Indus Valley Civilisation? A 2,500-year-old archaeological site, suffering from neglect might have the answer. A thriving settlement between the 4th century BCE and 12th century CE, Chandraketugarh is often thought to be the kingdom of Gangaridai as referred to by ancient Greek and Roman writers. Apart from its historical significance, Chandraketugarh is of great cultural importance, associated with Bengali poet and astrologer Khana, the daughter-in-law of Varahamihira, the famed astronomer and mathematician who was part of Chandragupta Vikramaditya’s court.
The earliest cookbooks found around the world give people today a fascinating look at not only what the people of the time ate but also their lifestyles, mainly of those from the upper class. The oldest known documented recipes in the world come from the ancient city of Babylon. The Mesopotamian recipe book is the oldest and the first documented cuisine in the world, of which only three Babylonian cuneiform tablets are extant today and is a set of cracked tablets engraved by an early civilization’s version of a master chef going back to 1700 BCE. The recipes are elaborate and often call for rare ingredients. The dishes were slow-cooked in a covered pot to make the food extra tasty. Ancient foodies seem to have preferred fowl and mutton.
Although Shaduppum was established as early as the late third millenium BCE, during the days of Sargon of Akkad, Shaduppum didn’t rise to prominence until the second millennium BCE, where it seems to have been a heavily fortified administrative station for the kingdom of Eshnunna, and its name means “the treasury.” Among the tablets from Shaduppum are two with parts of the Laws of Eshnunna as well as some important mathematical tablets, which are not only interesting, but surprising too. There remains much we don’t know about Shaduppum, that we may never know, but one thing is clear: Shaduppum was a city that had a little bit of everything that made it a Mesopotamian city worth a look.
Located in the fabled ancient city of Babylon, adjacent to the Processional Way and the iconic Ishtar Gate, the Ninmakh Temple was rebuilt several times during the reigns of Esarhaddon, Assurbanipal, and Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century BCE. Ninmakh is the Sumerian Mother Goddess and one of the oldest and most important in the Mesopotamian Pantheon. She is principally a fertility goddess. Ninmakh subsumed the characteristics of similar deities like Ki (earth) and others, and was later herself subsumed by the fertility goddess Inanna/Ishtar.
The Warka Vase, a.k.a. the Uruk Vase, a carved alabaster stone vessel, is one of the earliest surviving works of narrative relief sculpture. It was found in the temple complex of the Sumerian goddess Inanna in the ruins of the ancient city of Uruk, located in southern Iraq.
In 1227 CE, the thirty-seventh Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir Billah (reigned 1226-1242 CE) commissioned the construction of Al-Mustansiriyya madrasa in the capital city of Baghdad named in his honour. Construction lasted for six years and the school opened in 1234 CE. It was one of the oldest madrasas in the world. Al-Mustansiriyah Madrassa stands as a testament to Iraq’s resilience and endurance over the centuries and demonstrates that barbarism and terrorism of any kind, at any period, cannot prevail over culture and knowledge.
I was travelling to Ranchi from Kolkata. I saw traditional Bengali masks were being displayed at the departure terminal of the Kolkata airport. It’s a nice way to promote the ancient craft of mask-making in Bengal. Throughout the world, masks are used for their expressive power as a feature of masked performance — both ritually and in various theatre traditions.
The world’s oldest paycheck has apparently been discovered and it was cashed in beer! Beer is one of the world’s oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating back to the early Neolithic or 9500 BC, when cereal was first farmed and is recorded in the written history of ancient Iraq and ancient Egypt.
The Gondal state was one of the eight first class princely states of Kathiawar Agency during Bombay Presidency. The state spanned an area of about 1000 sq miles comprising four towns and more than 175 villages. Gondal finds mention in texts like Ain-i-Akbari (written in the reign of Akbar) and Mirat-i-Ahmadi as Vaghela state in Sorath (Saurashtra). The Gondal state in Kathiawar Agency was founded in 1634 by Thakore Shri Kumbhoji I Meramanji from Jadeja dynasty, who received Ardoi and other villages from his father Meramanji.