Sunday, 4 December 2016

From your hands

In Serbian the word "ruka" means "hand, arm". This is Slavic only word, borrowed by Latvians and Lithuanians. The expression "iz ruke" means "from the hand". You take something that someone is giving you from his hand. The expression "iz ruku" means "from the hands". You take something that someone is giving you from his hands. To give something, you need to "let go of it", "let it out of your hand" which in Serbian is "iz ruke" = from the hand, "iz ruku" = from the hands, or if you are an "uneducated peasant" you would say "iz rukama" = from the hands

But today while browsing the Sumerian dictionary, as you would :) , I came across this: Sumerian: ISRUK = Gave (he gave) ISRUKAM = Gave (he gave to me)

I also found this word:


NADANU = Give, Give (to pay)

In Serbian when an "uneducated peasant" wants to give you something, especially whey he has to give it to you grudgingly, like for instance when he has to give you money, he will often say to you "na!" meaning "here you go", "here it is", "take it". The word "na" also means "to, at, of" so in South of Serbia "uneducated peasants" would say "podaj to na njega" meaning "give this to him".

Once the thing is given, in Serbian it is "dan (M), dana (F), dano (N)" meaning "given".

Now the Slavic verb "dati" meaning "to give" comes from Indoeuropean root "deh₃-". But how many non Slavic languages have word "na" with the above meaning?

And what the hell are these words doing in Sumerian???

Any plausible explanation anyone?

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Fulacht fiadh - primitive ale brewery?

In August 2007 two Galway based archaeologists, Billy Quinn and Declan Moore, suggested that fulachta fiadh were used primarily for the brewing of beer. To understand how they came to this conclusion we have to look at what we know about the history of brewing alcohol.

The earliest evidence for brewing of alcoholic beverages was found among the remains of the Neolithic village of Jiahu in Northern China. It seems that as early as 9,000 years ago people of Jiahu made alcohol from fermented rice and honey. The earliest evidence for brewing beer comes from Godin Tepe in the Zagros Mountains in modern day Iran. Here, calcium Oxalate, the principal component of an insoluble deposit related to the production of beer and known as beerstone was found on the inner surfaces of fermentation vessels dated to late fourth Millennium BC. A stamp seal from Tepe Gawra, a site near Mosul, Iraq dated to 4000 BC, shows two figures drinking beer using traditional straws and container.

At Hierakonpolis near Luxor, Jeremy Geller interpreted a site known as HK24A (3100-2890 BC), as a brewery. The brewery incorporated at least six coarse ceramic vats in two parallel rows set within a mud platform and probably originally covered with an ad hoc superstructure to contain the heat. Each vat, with a height of at least 65cm and a maximum diameter of 85cm, in brewing terms, might be considered a mash-tun, in which the infusion of ingredients (mainly emmer wheat and fruits for sugar and taste) was maintained at a warm temperature. Preliminary analysis of the black shiny residue with cereal grains still embedded found within the vats revealed compounds identified with all phases of biosynthetic fermentation. Based on ethnographic parallels, Geller suggested that the production of beer was a two day process: one day to bring the mash to temperature and cool it down and another day to ferment. There is no explicit information on how the vats were heated, but based on the vat dimensions they were probably heated by the hot coals piled around the base of the vats, in the same way the traditional cooking vats are still heated in Serbia.

Given the outlay for fuel necessary to sustain the needed heat, it is possible that the brew was transferred from the vats to ferment elsewhere, thus freeing the vats for another batch before full cooling of the installation. If this were the case, a great deal of beer could be produced on a daily basis.

If used on a full time basis, this brewery could produce 300 gallons a week allowing 2 days for fermentation in the vat. Output could be as high as 300 gallons a day if the liquid was transferred to other vessels for fermentation. This is output clearly far in excess of domestic needs.

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains references to Siduri; an archetypical brewster and barmaid who gave beer, comfort and counsel to Gilgamesh, greatest of the Sumerian kings. Archeological sites throughout the Near East have yielded thousands of cuneiform tablets containing recipes for and prayers in praise of beer. Among the many types of brew made by these ancient brewsters of Sumeria were: black beer, white beer, red beer, beer of two parts, beer from the nether-world, beering for the offering (sacrifice), mother beer, beer for the supper, beer with horns, wheat beer and beer with a head. As in the later society of ancient Egypt, Sumerian-Mesopotamian beers were made from bread loaves called “bappir.” Barley malt was rendered into a bread cake form, crumbled into water, and with the aid of ambient, airborne yeast, fermentation took place. Most ancient societies used honey as a source of fermentable sugar.

For the ancient Egyptians, beer was so important that the hieroglyphic symbol for food was a pitcher of beer and a cake of bread. Egyptian hieroglyphics tell of dozens of varieties of beer for both this world and the next. Pharaohs were routinely buried with tiny model breweries complete with miniature wooden brewers to ensure a regular supply of beer on the arduous journey to the afterworld.

Egyptian beer, called “Hekt,” was widely exported all over the known world: to Rome, Palestine, and as far away as India. Egyptian women brewed their beer in an area of the kitchen called “the pure,” the lady of the house always supervising. Although royal brewers were sometimes men, most Egyptian beer was made and sold by women who developed scores of beer styles. Brown beer, iron beer, sweet beer–lagered with dates, neter or strong beer, white, black, and red beer and Nubian “boosa”, were just a few of the beer styles commonly made. Special brews for religious purposes included Friend’s beer; the beer of the Protector; Hemns or old beer; the Beer of Truth; the beer of the goddess Maat; and Setcherit, a narcotic beer using as a sleeping draught. Hops were unknown to the ancient Egyptians although bitter herbs like Lupin and Skirret were often used to bitter the brew or served as an appetizer with the beer itself.

In Africa, beer is still made using the same ancient recipe and procedure. Red or white sorghum (or millet) is placed into cold water to swell and germinate.  A few days later, it is piled up in a basket, and after it has germinated a few more days, it is dried in the sun and is then pounded into flour.

A large beer making pot, like this one from Mambila - Nigeria, Cameroon, is half filled with water. 

To see the scale of these pots, here is a picture of one being made.

You can see that they are the same size as the large cooking pots from Serbia or large Beakers from Ireland. 

Coal is piled around the base of the pot and water is heated until boiled. The flour is then poured into the boiling water.  The resulting porridge is continually stirred with a wooden stick, while cold water is progressively added.

When the large pot is filled with cold water, a little sour banana beer or yeast is poured in for fermentation, and the slurry is allowed to settle to the bottom. Beer is then drunk from the fermentation pot using straws.

Or can be drunk from gourds

Pictures of the primitive beer brewery in action in Nigeria can be seen in a brilliant article entitled "Chapalo: Millet Beer, Julia Child... and Hookers" which you can find on the great blog entitiled "Cooking outside of the box". 

The author of the article describes the brewing of "chapalo", local brew which is made from red millet, but which can also be made of sorghum, or a combination of both. 

"First, the millet is washed in large buckets of distilled water kept in clean, plastic garbage cans. Then the grain is transferred to the cauldrons. These are covered and left to boil for two days, after which the contents are strained through a large, loosely woven basket into a wide, shallow pan. Once the honey-brown liquid is collected, the pan is placed in the shade of a straw mat hangar that also serves as a bar. Yeast is added, and the chapalo is allowed to cool and ferment for one day before it is served to the customers..."

Millet beer is still brewed in pots and vats in the same way in other parts of the world. 

Here is a woman from Pathak India brewing millet beer in pots heated with charcoal piled around the bottom of the pots.

In the Balkans this type of millet beer is called "boza". Boza is a thick, fermented beverage (containing up to 4 percent alcohol) with a sourish or sweetish  taste. The boza is made of various kinds of flour (barley, oats, corn, wheat), but boza of best quality and taste is made of millet flour.

To make boza slightly roast the flour (until rosy in colour). Take care not to get it burnt. Mix it with only a bit of lukewarm water. Pour the mixture into a pot filled with the rest of the water and put it on the plate. Add the sugar and leave the liquid to boil stirring it once in a while. Keep boiling for 5-6 minutes still stirring. Remove the pot from the fire and let it cool. Add 1 teacupful of boza or yeast to start fermentation. Leave the mixture in a warm place for 2-3 days to ferment. That's it. You can now drink it and enjoy it.

Do you think its funny that the name for grain ale in the Balkans is the same as the Nubian name for beer "boosa"? I do. I will write more about it in one of my next posts...
The world’s earliest written recipe, a Sumerian cuneiform tablet dating to 1800 BC, describes the brewing of beer.

The tablet contains the Hymn to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer who was also known as 'the Lady of the inebriating fruit'. 

The hymn is also the detailed description of the beer production process, whose starting point is preparing the beer mash in a pit in the ground using ‘sweet aromatics and honey’.

You are the one who handles the dough,
[and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,
Ninkasi, You are the one who handles
the dough, [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date]-honey.

And this is what made Billy Quinn and Declan Moore conclude that fulacht fiadh throughs could have been used as wort mixing and heating pits. As they say in their article about ale brewing in fulacht fiadh, "considering that a pit was integral to the brewing process in the Fertile Crescent at least 5500 years ago, and that there is no description of how the temperature was controlled during the wort pit brewing. Now the pits, being dug in the ground, can only be heated from the inside. In my article about pit ovens i described constriction and use of pit ovens for baking, roasting and steam cooking. They were all either heated directly by fire burning inside of the pit, like in tandoor pit ovens, or by fire heated stones placed on top of fire burning inside of the pit. Boiling pits can also only be heated from the inside but because they are filled with water, we can't heat them by lighting fire inside of them. The only way to heat boiling pits is by using stones stones heated on the fire burning outside of the pit. So if pits were used by the ancient Mesopotamians for heating and mixing wort, they could only have been heated using fire heated stones. 

Or not...

This is a view from above of a millet beer brewery in someone's home in Segou, Mali. 

You can see that pots (cauldrons) look like they are placed into pits dug into the ground. How are they heated you might ask?. If they have been sank into pits, then they surely can only be heated by hot stones placed directly into the liquid, right? 


On the great travelogue called "Jude's travels" you can find this picture of a woman brewing "pito" beer in Ghana. Pito? "pi to" = "drink this" in Slavic languages??? "pivo" = "pi ovo" = "drink this" bear in Slavic languages??? 

Leaving this linguistic enigma aside, the important thing to notice on this picture is that what you are seeing is the same type of brewery like the one from Mali, with cauldrons "sunk into pits". But actually an artificial hill was made from clay around cauldrons mounted on stones fixing the structure in place. Fire is burned in the space between the stones holding the cauldron.

This is a great film, showing how beer is brewed in one of these primitive breweries in Ségou.

So is it possible that what was in the above "recipe" described as a "pit" which could only be heated by inserting hot stones into the liquid contained within it, was actually a pot mounted into a pit in a clay hill brewery like the one on the above pictures, and which was heated by the fire burning below the pot??? I mean everywhere else in the world people used pots and vats heated from the bottom to make beer, right?

Wrong again. 

Guess what. The way of heating wort using fire heated stones was used in Europe until very recently.  In Germany the hot rock method for heating wort in mash tuns was used by Rauchenfels brewery, Bavaria. In Germany the bear made using this technique is called ‘stein beer’ (stone beer). Also, in Finland an unhopped ale called sahti, still served at rural feasts in Finland, is also prepared using the same method of heating wort by immersing hot stones into a wooden mash tun.

You can find more information about "stein beer" and "sahti beer" as well as recipes for making them in on "Brew your own" website. This is a great video showing how making the stein beer is done today in USA. This and this are good articles about sahti brewing using traditional equipment.

So we know that people in Europe used hot stones for heating wort as part of the ale brewing procedure until very recently. But when did Europeans start brewing beer is not clear. It is possible that first grain based meads and ales were brewed in northern Europe as far back as neolithic times. Thousands of charred cereal grains were found at the Neolithic site at Balbridie in Scotland dated to 3900-3500 BC. Pottery from Machrie Moor site at Arran in Scotland dated to the same period, were found to contain cereal pollens. Beaker people who arrived to Britain and Ireland around 2500 BC, probably didn't drink water out of all those high-status drinking vessels found in their graves. At Bronze Age site at Perthshire, Scotland dated to 1540 BC, archaeologists discovered a ‘black greasy material’ in a food vessel. Pollen analysis indicated that it most likely represented a remain of a fermented grain base alcoholic drink, a cereal-based ale.

So, we have:

1. Mesopotamian ale making recipe which says that the wort was heated and mixed in pits which were most likely heated by fire heated stones dated to 1800 BC (stain beer)
2. British Bronze Age ale dated to 1500 BC
3. A long standing reputation that Irish people have for alcohol consumption without any idea how did the Bronze and Iron Age people in Ireland brew
4. A lot of wood or stone lined pits (throughs) with a fire place and pile of stones which cracked because of the repeated heating and cooling (fulachta fiadh) that no one knows for sure what they were used for.

Knowing all this the question Billy Quinn and Declan Moore asked seems almost inevitable: Were fulacha fiadh ale breweries, where throughs were used as the wort mixing and fermenting pits heated by fire heated stones?

In order to answer their question the two Galway archaeologists decided to try and make beer using their own fulacht fiadh. They dug a pit and placed a wooden through inside it. They filled it with water and crushed sprouted roasted barley. They then heated stones on a fireplace and used them to heat the mush in the through to approximately 67° Celsius for about an hour. This produced wort, a glucose-rich syrup solution. To maximise the sugar yield from the grain the wort was sparged (washed through with hot water) using wicker basket. After an hour the mixture in the through was brought to a boil for a short time to pasteurise it. The end product was then transferred to storage vessels (copies of beaker culture pots), yeast was added to promote fermentation, flavourings were added to improve taste and several days later the end product was an unhopped ale. Here is the picture showing the two home brewers hard at work and the equipment they used in the brewing process.

You can read the detailed description of their brewing experiment in this article on their website. I would here just want to quote the last two paragraphs:

"We produced what is more properly termed a gruit ale (gruit is a term used to describe the herbal mix used to flavour ale). Through our experiments, we discovered that the process of brewing ale in a fulacht using hot rock technology is a simple process. To produce the ale took only a few hours, followed by a three-day wait to allow for fermentation. Three hundred litres of water was transformed into a very palatable 110 litres of ale with minimal work. The real labour for the Bronze Age brewer would have been gathering, malting and milling the barley. The spent grain provided the ingredients for a dozen malt loaves and the rest was used as cattle fodder. Other than the shattered stone and the remains of the fire, there was no wastage.


So, what is the evidence for brewing? First, the experiment worked. Fermentation caused by windblown yeast even occurred in the leftover mash in the trough within a few hours. Secondly, a number of quernstones have been found in association with fulachts – indicating that grain processing was taking place nearby. Furthermore the fact that hot rock brewing was carried out to an industrial level until the early part of the last century (and indeed is still practised at a vernacular level in Scandinavian Countries today) testifies to the efficiency of the process.

In conclusion beer at its most basic is fermented liquid bread and is a highly nutritious beverage. Our ancestors would have consumed ale on a daily basis as a healthy, uncontaminated, comfort drink. But this does not preclude the fact that in the long Bronze Age evenings and nights, family groups likely sat around a blazing fire telling tales, interacting socially and enjoying the warmth, well-being and genial companionship that ale enhances.

We suggest that the fulacht fiadh was possibly multifunctional, the kitchen sink of the Bronze Age with many conceivable uses. For us, however, a primary use seems clear – these sites were Bronze Age micro-breweries."

Now this is very interesting. I definitely agree that fulacht fiadh could have been used for brewing. The brewing temperature of 67 degrees Celsius is well below the bubbling boiling temperature and therefore well bellow the high temperature loss through surface threshold. This means that heating the mush in the fulacht fiadh through is quite efficient. By the way, it is very interesting that the brewing temperature is the same as the hot water acorn leaching temperature. Hot water leaching was also done in pits and I suggested in my last post that fulchta fiadh could have been used as acorn leaching facilities. This raises an interesting question. Was brewing discovered by chance when people applied the same procedure used for acorn leaching on grain?

However, there is a problem with the theory that fulacht fiadh were used for brewing ale. The same problem that the theory that they were used for acorn leaching and food cooking. This is an excerpt from the original article about the fulacht fiadh brewing experiment:

"Seeking authenticity in replicating our Bronze Age ale we decided that our equipment should be as basic as possible. The wooden trough, posthumously donated by Billy’s granduncle, was 60 years old, leaky, wedge-shaped and measured 1.7 m in length, 0.7 m in width with a depth of 0.65 m (roughly consistent with the average trough dimensions from excavated examples). When filled with water to a depth of 0.55 m, it held 350 litres. In an attempt at caulking the more obvious gaps moss and alluvial clay was applied. Where this process was carried out with care no leaks occurred. After digging a pit, the trough was lowered into the ground and water added. Despite some initial leakage we eventually reached an equilibrium in the water level by simply flooding the immediate area."

Basically fulacht fiadh throughs, which were lined with wooden planks or stone plates were not watertight. This means that they would leak water out into the ground leading to the significant loss of the precious wort. That is if you are lucky, and your fulacht fiadh was built on a dry well drained soil. However, as I have said already in my previous posts about fulachta fiadh, most of them were built on marshy boggy grounds. A leaky through lining a pit dug in such ground would quickly fill with marshy boggy acidic bad tasting dirty water. Not something you want to eat or drink... So unless the throughs of these bog fulachta fiadh were made in some way completely watertight, which is quite difficult, there is no way they were used for food preparation of any way...What is very interesting is that there is a very easy way to make completely watertight large wooden throughs. All you need to do is to fall a large enough tree, cut a two meter piece of the trunk, and split is vertically into half and then hollow one half to make a through. A completely watertight through. The makers of sahti beer use exactly such throughs called kuuran for flavouring and spariging:

And we know that people of bronze age Ireland were perfectly able to make such dugout throughs, because we have found huge dugout canoes made at the same time when fulacht fiadh were made. Like the Lurgan canoe which is over 4000 years old and which was discovered in 1901 in a Co. Galway bog:

So if one of the main challenges for our bronze age brewers, as our Galway archaeologists turned brewers claim, really was how to heat large volumes of water to make a wort in the absence of suitable large metal containers, a dugout through one tenth of the size of the above dugout canoe would have sufficed. No leakage problems found in fulacht fiadh plank lined pits...However I don't think that bronze age brewers had the problem "how to heat large volumes of water to make a wort" at all. If you look at the copies of the beaker pots they used in their brewing experiment, you can see that they are approximately the same size as the largest of the vessels used for brewing beer in primitive societies. They are free standing, and could have easily been heated by hot coals piled around the base, and you could boil hundreds of litres of worth in them no problem...So I don't think that bronze age Irish would have needed fulacht fiadh throughs to heat up the worth. 

Another reason why I don't think fulachta fiadh were used as breweries is that if you wanted to make beer, wouldn't you make it close to the place where you would drink it, like the village where you lived. And not in the middle of nowhere, far from any villages, which is where we find fulachta fiadh? If fulachta fiadh were really used for brewing beer, once your beer is done, how would you transport it to your customers? During bronze age there were no roads, trucks or kegs...

So I believe that if bronze age Irish did brew beer, they did it in large beakers heated with hot coals piled at the bottom, probably in their villages. But if their eyes were really bigger than their bellies, and they thought that couple of hundred litres of beer was not enough for a party, they could have used , kuuran like dugout vessels, heated using hot stones, again in their villages...

So I really don't believe that fulachta fiadh were used as breweries, even though they could have been. There are easier and more practical ways to brew beer that were available to the bronze age Irish. Remember, people are lazy and will use the easiest way to do things...As one of my university professors said "Laziness is the mother of all invention"...

But if so, what were fulacht fiadh throughs used for? Well as I explained in my post "Fulacht fiadh - acorn leaching pit?" they could have been used for leaching acorns during acorn food production. But that was not the only thing fulachta fiadh could have been efficiently used for. More in my next posts. Until then drink responsibly :)

Monday, 28 November 2016


In English we have the word "worth" which means "having a value, deserving of". The official etymology of this word says that it comes from Middle English "worth", from Old English "weorþ", from Proto-Germanic "*werþaz" meaning "worthy, valuable". Etymology for the reconstructed Proto-Germanic root "werþaz" is unclear. Officially it comes from "Pre-Germanic" root "*wértos", probably derived from Proto-Indo-European "*wert-" ‎(to turn) through a meaning of "exchange", a development also seen in Celtic.

However I believe that the the original root of this word could be Slavic word "vredan". The word "vredan" means both "hardworking, industrious, diligent" and "valuable". I believe that originally it was applied to both cattle and people, family members, slaves, serfs, who in the past were both only valuable if they were hardworking....Otherwise they were not "worth", deserving of being fed and kept alive...They had no value. This is where the original meaning of "exchange" came from and was "hard work for life". Only later, when people started trading, the worth of people and cattle started to be expressed in "things you can get for hard working people and cattle" and only then the word "worth" started being used to mean "value" of anything that can be exchanged.

But, the most common opinion in linguistic circles is that Germanic and Slavic words are cognates and that the Slavic word is "and early, pre 8th century borrowing from Germanic languages". In this case the meaning of the Slavic word "vredan" would come from "verd" + "dan" = "worth" + "given" = "in exchange" + "given" = "value"...But this does not explain the meaning "hard working, industrious, diligent" which the word "vredan" also carries...

What do you think?

O yea, and how much are you "worth"? Unfortunately, not much has changed in the world since this word was coined. Except that today you are not kept alive by your owners by them giving you food and shelter. Today they give you money to buy food and shelter. If you are "vredan" (worthy - valuable because of being hardworking, industrious, diligent)... :)

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Fulacht fiadh - acorn leaching pit?

I finished my post in which I presented all the pros (none) and cons (many) on the subject "Fulacht fiadh - a cooking pit?" with this paragraph:

"So I think that we can safely say that fulachta fiadh were not used in the way the mainstream archaeology suggest they were used:  for cooking large amounts of meat in throughs full of water heated by hot stones. The Bronze Age people who built fulachta fiadh had much more efficient ways of cooking large quantities of meat at their disposal." 

But what about the throughs? Every fulachta fiadh had a through, so they must have been used for something. But if not for cooking, what were they used for?

In my next few posts I will like to propose what the throughs could have been used for. 

In this post I would like to propose that one of the possible efficient (very important) uses of the Fulacht fiadh's throughs could have been acorn leaching. 

In my two posts about Irish bullaun stones: "bullaun stones" and "new material about bullaun stones" I presented my theory that Bullaun stones from Ireland and the similar stones with large deep cup marks, were made to be used as mortars for grinding probably originally acorns, and then wild grain, grain, tubers and even ore...

These articles are part of the series of articles about the human use of acorns as food through history, in which I presented the evidence that acorns were a staple human starch food since Paleolithic times. 

You can find these articles here:

"Oaks", "Acorns in archaeology", "How did oaks repopulate Europe", "Eating acorns", "Christmas trees from garden of Eden", "Acorns in ancient texts". 

But in order to eat acorns, they first have to be leached. 

So what is acorn leaching?

There were two distinct types of oaks and acorns:

The white oaks whose acorns mature in 6 months and taste sweet or slightly bitter; The inside of the acorn shell is hairless. The bark is light in colour, gray to light gray. The leaves mostly lack a bristle on their lobe tips, which are usually rounded.

The red and black oaks whose acorns mature in 18 months and taste bitter to very bitter. The inside of the acorn's shell can be hairless but is in most cases woolly. The bark darker in colour. Its leaves typically have sharp lobe tips, with bristles at the lobe tip.

The acorn bitterness is caused by tannin or tanic acid. The concentration of tannin varies from species to species. This is why acorns from some oaks can be eaten raw and some are so bitter that they are inedible unless the tannins are removed. This process of removing tannins from acorns is called leaching. The tannins leached out of the acorns "tan", color the water.  

These are the same tannins used in tanning leather...

Now there are many different ways in which you can leach acorns.  In my post about eating acorns I wrote about the discovery and development of the acorn processing techniques and tools. 

Most acorn leaching techniques involved soaking acorns in water as water dissolves tannin.

There are basically two main types of water leaching: active and passive. 

Passive techniques involve storing whole shelled or unshelled acorns in baskets which are either submerged in running water or in waterlogged pits. Water slowly leaches tannin and eventually after several days, weeks (running water) or months, years (waterlogged pits) the acorns become edible. This technique requires very little work but takes time and ties the people to the location of the leaching baskets or pits. 
Active leaching involves basically shelling and crushing acorns  and then washing them in cold or hot water. This technique requires a lot of human work but is much quicker. Acorns leached like this become edible after several days to several hours depending on the temperature of the water used for leaching. So you could store your acorns dry into baskets, which is good if you want to carry them around from place to place, and then leach them when you need them. 

It is this second type of water leaching, the active leaching, that I believe the fulacht fiadh's throughs could have been used for. 

So to do this type of quick leaching you need to first shell the acorns. You can then crush them, because the smaller the pieces, the larger the contact surface area between the acorns and water, and the faster extraction of tannins, but you don't have to. Sometimes is more practical to leach acorns whole, as it is easier to store whole leached acorns than acorn mush....

Anyway, once the acorns are shelled (and optionally crushed) they can be leached by getting them into contact with water. This is done by submerging the acorns into a container containing fresh water in proportion 1 part acorn 3 parts water or more water. The acorns will sink to the bottom and start leaching straight away turning the water dark. You wait for a while for tannin to dissolve in water and then you pour out or scoop out the tanned water. You then pour in new fresh water and repeat the procedure until the water stops turning dark or until acorns stop tasting biter. Simple. If you can get large enough watertight containers near running water... Like large pots, pits, sand beds, or wood or stone lined throughs. 

The cold water leaching process takes from from 8 hours to several days depending on the tannin content in acorns. You can speed up the leaching process by using hot water. Acorns submerged in hot water leach a lot faster, taking only two to three hours to lose their bitterness. What is interesting is that from the ethnographic data collected among the Native American tribes, we know that they used heated stones for heating water for acorn leaching. The stones used for water heating were carefully chosen so that they don't fracture during the continuous heating and cooling. The best stones for this purpose are basalt stones as the don't shatter under thermal pressure. 

There are couple of things that need to know when using water for acorn leaching:

You have to use either only cold water or only hot water for leaching. If you mix cold and hot water or if you put acorns into cold water and then heat the water, the tannin in the acorns will be bound to the acorn meat permanently and you will not be able to remove it. The temperature of water with which you leach the acorns is very important. Heating water over 73 degrees Celsius precooks the starch in the acorn. Cold processing and low temperatures under 65 degrees Celsius  does not cook the starch. Acorn meal that was leached in cold water thickens when cooked, hot-water leached acorn meal does not thicken when cooked.  Also, when you leach the acorns in very hot water you also boil off the oil with the tannins, reducing  acorn meal nutrition. So ideally you would want to leach acorns in water which is hot but not very hot. 

This brings me back to what I said about why I believed that pit meat boiling was extremely unlikely usage for fulacht fiadh. Fulacht fiadh have much larger surface area compared to their dept and "the heat loss due to evaporation of water from a surface of an open tank is totally dominant at higher water temperatures". What this means is that at boiling temperature, it becomes extremely difficult to keep the water in the shallow through with the large surface boiling using heated stones for long enough to actually cook meat. But the heat loss through the surface is much smaller on lower temperatures and these temperatures can be maintained relatively easily using heated stones. Which means that fulacht fiadh could be efficiently used for hot water acorn leaching. 

So how would the hot water acorn leaching be done in fulacht fiadh? First you would fill the through with clean water. You would then heat the water using heated stones until it is hot but not boiling. You would then pour in whole or crashed acorns. You would occasionally add new heated stones to keep the water temperature high. You would also steer the water with a stick to help the leaching process. You would also from time to time scoop out some of the tanned hot water and replace it with some clean cold, followed by adding heated stones to keep the water hot. 

This leaching procedure is very efficient not just because we are using hot water, but also because we are using stones heated in ashes for heating the water. Every time we drop a heated stone into the through, hot wood ash which was stuck to the surface of the stone gets washed off the stone and dissolved in water. And believe or not we know that in addition to using hot water to speed up the process of dissolving the tannin, some cultures also used wood ash to induce chemical reactions which transform tannic acid into harmless chemicals. Early ethnobotanist Huron Smith (1923, pg 66) documented the Menominee method of processing various oak acorn species: "The hulls were flailed off after parching, and the acorn was boiled till almost cooked. The water was then thrown away. Then to fresh water, two cups of wood ash were added. The acorns were put into a net and were pulled out of the water after boiling in this. The third time, they were simmered to clear them of lye water. Then they are ground into meal with mortar and pestle, then sifted in a birch-bark sifter."

So it seems that acorn leaching is one of the possible uses for fulchta fiadh. Well at least for those fulacha fiadh which were cut into bedrock or into a clay rich soil next to a clean streams. However, as I already said in my post "Fulacht fiadh - a cooking pit?", one of the key feature of the most fulacht fiadh sites is elevated soil acidity. Basically most fulacht fiadh were located in marshy boggy areas where a hole dug into the ground would quickly fill with water. Acidic marshy water. A very very bad water for cooking food. And a very very bad water for leaching (extracting acid from) acorns. So even though fulachta fiadh could functionally have been efficiently used for acorn leaching, only the ones not located in marshy pit bogs could in reality have been used for this purpose. 

I will continue exploring the possible uses of fulachta fiadh in my next few posts. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Archangel Michael

This is Archangel Michael, my family saint. He is celebrated today on 21st of November. I wish all people who celebrate Archangel Michael (Srećna Slava) Happy Slava. 

But who is really Archangel Michael?

If we look at the Bible we find that it has this to say about Archangel Michael:

Genesis 3

"{3:24}And in front of the Paradise of enjoyment, he placed the Cherubim with a flaming sword, turning together, to guard the way to the tree of life."

1 Chronicles 21

"{21:16} And David lifting up his eyes, saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand, turned against Jerusalem: and both he and the ancients clothed in haircloth, fell down flat on the ground."

"{21:30} And David could not go to the altar there to pray to God: for he was seized with an exceeding great fear, seeing the sword of the angel of the Lord."

Who is Archangel Michael? The Archangel Michael is the closest to the Lord in the Jewish scriptures, for his very name means "Who is like God." As the eldest Archangel, he is given captaincy of all of God's natural phenomena, including rain, wind, fire, snow, thunder, lightning, and hail. Michael is believed by many Jews to have appeared to Moses as the fire in the burning bush and to have led Daniel from the lions' den. Additionally, because it is said in the Book of Revelations that Michael will lead God's troops against the dragon and his angels at the final battle, many people seek the aid of Michael against wrong-doers on Earth

The archangel who controls the rain, fire, thunder, lightning and who punished the wrong-doers. Is this a description of Perun? The Archangel with a flaming sword who stands between Heaven and Earth guarding the heaven and pointing his flaming sword towards the earth. Is this a description of lightning? Is the lightning the flaming sword of the lord?

In my post about "Ognjena Marija" I explained that in Slavic mythology, Ognjena Marija or the "Fiery Mary" is considered to be the sister of St Ilija, the thundering sun and (or) wife of the thunder god Perun, who is just another name for Ilija, Ilios, Sun god, another face of Sun god. She is also known as Perunika, Perena, Ljeljuja, Leluja, Ljelja, Gorka, Veronika. Later, under Christianity, her importance was degraded and she was regarded as an evil goddess, described as an evil and ugly woman named Irudika (who was in turn a daughter of Poganica).
She was the goddess of lightning, weddings, motherhood, and protector of marriage and justice on earth. Perunika wears a rainbow as her belt. In some parts of Croatian people still call rainbow "the mother of god" referring to Ognjena Marija. Onjena Marija, Perunika uses a heavy sledge hammer (a symbol of thunder deities) to punish people, and controls lightning. Gromovnik (God of Thunder) Perun, helped by his wife Perunika Ognjena Marija, ''loads'' the thunderbolts and shoots them at thieves, liars, and immoral people in general.

In Serbo Croatian flower Iris is also called Perunika, Ljeljuja, Leluja, Ljelja, Sabljarka, Bogiša. The name "bogiša", originates from the region around Dubrovnik town, southern Croatia and means God's flower. The flower is dedicated to the goddess Perunika. According to a legend, this flower grows at the place where Perun's spark, lightning, hits the fertile soil. In the same way, a place hit by lightning was considered sacred and objects, like a stone or tree, from such a place were consecrated. This represents a divine sexual act: Perun, the thunder giant, penetrates the earth with his penis (lightning),  inseminating the earth with heavenly semen, rain. In Serbian Perunika could mean the place where the seed of perun sprouted. Perunika = Perun + nika = Perun + sprouted.

Considering that Perunika, Ognjena Marija, is directly linked with fertility of the land, it sounds logical that Perun's female companion punishes immoral and dishonest women by the ''white plague'' (sterility).

In Medjimurje (northern Croatia), one greeting used on the feast day of St. Stephen (Dec. 26) mentions God with lelulja (ljeljuja), i.e. perunika, in his hand. This is the most probable origin of the alternative Perunika's name Ljelja. But also this could indicate that the true meaning of Perunika is actually lightning, electricity, the spark of life. Perunika, the wife of Perun, symbolized by flower Perunika, is the essence of his power, Electricity, Lightning. 

In the same way Indrani is the wife and essence of the power of Indra, and Shakti is wife and essence of the power of Shiva. 

Perun holding Perunika is Shiva holding Trishula, Lightning. 

And guess what? Iris (Perunika) has the petals of the same color as lightning, blue - purple laced with lightning like golden pattern. It also has three main petals.

Just like trishula has three spikes: 

This Russian "Christian" icon depicts Ognjena Marija or the "Fiery Mary" surrounded with fiery wheels of Perun, inside the burning flame.

The fiery wheels of Perun, the Thunder god, are actually burning sun wheels of Svetovid, the Sun god. In South Slavic folk tradition the day of Perun is the 2nd of August, the Crom Dubh day in Ireland. But this day is also the day of St Ilija the Thunderer. St Ilija the Thunderer is Ilios, the thundering sun, the sun at its hottest, the sun that burns with its fiery eye. In Serbian tradition the rolling thunders which can be heard around the 2nd of August are said to be made by the fiery wheels of St Ilia's chariots thundering over the tops of the clouds, and the lightning that is seen flashing in the clouds are the sparks created by those same fiery chariot wheels.

This basically means that the sun wheel of Svetovid is thunder wheel of Perun. Sun creates, gives power to lightning, which is exactly what the latest scientific data is telling us: Solar radiation and lightning are intrinsically linked.  

Now remember, Michael "is like God". And so is Perun. Perun is like Svetovid. Perun is Ilija the Thunderer, who is Thundering sun Ilios. In my post about Triglav, Trimurti I wrote that 

The book of Veles has this riddle:
Jer tajna je velika, kako to Svarog biva u isto vreme i Perun i Svetovid.
Translated into English this means: 
Because it is a great secret how come Svarog (hevenly and earthly fire) is at the same time Perun (thunder) and Svetovid (Sun).
And the answer to this riddle is Triglav, Trimurti. Svetovid (sun), Perun (thunder and lightning) and Svarog (Jarilo, fire) are three faces of one and only god Triglav. 

Perun is "like" Svetovid and this is depicted through the symbols of Svetovid and Perun: their wheels. The wheel of Perun is "like" the wheel of Svetovid. It is actually the fiery version of the wheel of Svetovid. Sun creating fire through lightning. 

Now if Michael is "Like El", is Michael actually Perun, who is "Like Svetovid"? 

In Indian mythology, Trimurti consists of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma. In Serbian mythology, Triglav (Svetovid, Perun, Svarog (Jarilo)) consists of Višnji, Živa, Branjanj.

In Serbian the meanings of the names of the holy trinity (Trimurti, Triglav) members (Višnji, Živa, Branjanj) actually correspond to their role in Serbian Trinity:

Vishnji (meaning "one who is up high", from vis "high"), the sun (Svetovid).
Branjanj (meaning the protector, supporter, from bran "protection", braniti "to protect"), the fire (Svarog, Jarilo).
Živa (meaning alive, living from Živ "alive, life"), the giver and taker of life (Perun).

In Serbian the word "Živ" means Alive and the word "Život" means Life. The tree of Life in Serbian is "Drvo Života". And Michael is guarding the access to the tree of Life (Život). Is this just a coincidence or is this a hint that Michael is Živa - Perun, the electricity part of the holy trinity? And as we know now, electricity is what powers all the life in the universe....

The references to the "captain of the host of the Lord" encountered by Joshua in the early days of his campaigns in the Promised Land (Joshua 5:13-15) have at times been interpreted as Michael the Archangel, but there is no theological basis for that assumption, given that Joshua then worshiped this figure, and angels are not to be worshiped. Some scholars also point that the figure may refer to God himself. In the book of Joshua's account of the fall of Jericho, Joshua "looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand". When the still unaware Joshua asks which side of the fight the Archangel is on, the response was, "neither...but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come".

So Joshua worshiped Michael (the fiery sword of god) like God. Michael who is "Like God, Closest to God". Serbs worshiped Perun (the lightning which causes fire and destruction) like God, the god of warriors. 

What is amazing is that when asked whose side he is on, Michael answers "neither". This is exact description of the nature of lightning. It is not on the side of heaven nor it is on the side of the earth. It is in between connected to both heaven and earth.

The Book of Revelation (12:7-9) describes a war in heaven in which Michael, being stronger, defeats Satan:

"...there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.

Slaying the dragon is a job of Thuner gods though out Evroasia. In Slavic religion, Veles is said to live in the roots of the Tree of Life in the shape of a serpent and is constantly trying to destroy the tree of life by eating its roots. He is killed by Perun in the shape of an eagle who lives in the branches of the Tree of Life. Perun the defender of the Tree of Life kills Veles the dragon, the great snake. This is another proof that Michael is actually Perun, Shiva, Thor, the thunder god, the lightning sword of the Lord God, the Sun.  

A reference to an "archangel" also appears in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians 4:16

"...the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God...".

This archangel who heralds the second coming of Christ is not named, but is probably Michael, the lightning which descends from heaven to earth with the sound of thunder, the voice of Archangel, the trumpet of God.

Do you think this is all a bit strange? It gets even Stranger.

The earliest and most famous sanctuary to Saint Michael was the Michaelion built in the early 4th century by Emperor Constantine at Chalcedon, on the site of an earlier Temple called Sosthenion. A painting of the Archangel slaying a serpent became a major art piece at the Michaelion after Constantine defeated Licinius near there in 324, eventually leading to the standard iconography of Archangel Michael as a warrior saint slaying a dragon. The Michaelion was a magnificent church and in time became a model for hundreds of other churches in Eastern Christianity which spread devotions to the Archangel.

A temple called Leosthenion (Greek: Λεωσθένιον) or Sosthenion (Greek: Σωσθένιον) had existed at the location prior to the 4th century. The site corresponds to modern Istinye.

According to a widespread tradition, current already since the 6th century, the Church of St. Michael at Sosthenion was founded by Constantine the Great, who visited the temple, erected by the Argonauts and dedicated to Zeus Sosthenios or a winged deity. Constantine interpreted the winged statue of the temple as a Christian angel. After sleeping the night in the temple, Constantine reported a vision that the angel was the Archangel Michael, and converted the building into a church to honor him.

Winged Zeus, Winged thunder god, was "interpreted" by Constantine as "Archangel Michael" who we have seen has all attributes of Perun, the thunder god. 

Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to become a Christian and in 313 AD along with his co-Emperor Licinius signed the Edict of Milan, allowing Christians to worship freely and build public churches, rather than worshiping in secret. However, Constantine and Licinius later fought each other and in 324 AD Constantine defeated Licinius at the Battle of Adrianople, not far from the Michaelion - attributing the victory to Archangel Michael.

"Constantine felt that both Licinius and Arius were agents of Satan, and associated them with the serpent described in the Book of Revelation (12:9). Constantine represented Licenius as a snake on his coins. After the victory, Constantine commissioned a depiction of himself and his sons slaying Licinius represented as a serpent - a symbolism borrowed from the Christian teachings on the Archangel to whom he attributed the victory. A similar painting, this time with the Archangel Michael himself slaying a serpent then became a major art piece at the Michaelion and eventually lead to the standard iconography of Archangel Michael as a warrior saint."

Archangel Michael was the warrior saint because Perun was a warrior God. And Archangel Michael slaying the Dragon is Perun (Eagle) slaying Veles (snake), Sun. Light overpowering Water, Darkness...

Did Constanin turn Perun into Archangel Michael? 

Well I don't know, but have a look at these two pictures. 

The labarum (Greek: λάβαρον) was a vexillum (military standard) that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧, formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" (Greek: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, or Χριστός) — Chi (χ) and Rho (ρ). It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine I. Since the vexillum consisted of a flag suspended from the crossbar of a cross, it was ideally suited to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ.

According to Lactantius, a Latin historian of North African origins saved from poverty by the Emperor Constantine I (r. 306–337), who made him tutor to his son Crispus, Constantine had dreamt of being ordered to put a "heavenly divine symbol" (Latin: coeleste signum dei) on the shields of his soldiers. The description of the actual symbol chosen by Emperor Constantine the next morning, as reported by Lactantius, is not very clear: it closely resembles a Chi-Rho or a staurogram, a similar Christian symbol. That very day Constantine's army fought the forces of Maxentius and won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312), outside Rome.

There is a symbol, a "heavenly divine symbol" which closely resembles ChiRho. It is the heavenly wheel of Perun, the warrior deity of Slavs who is like Svetovid:

Constantin, the first Christian Roman emperor, was born in the Balkans, in what is today the south eastern part of Serbia, in the town which is today called Niš, but which was known as Naisus during Roman times. What was Constantin's tribal origin? I don't know. But if he was fighting in the Civil War, he must have turned to his countrymen, to his compatriots, to his tribesmen for support. And what if they believed in Perun, the thunder god, being the protector of the warriors? What would be the best way Constantin could appease them? What was the best way for Constantin to get their support? Well he could have told them that he did not forget the "old faith" of their forefathers. And that if his compatriots joined him, they would be fighting as "us" against "them". And that they would be fighting under the protection of their old warrior god. And how would he show that? By placing the symbol of their old warrior god, the wheel of Perun, the heavenly divine symbol, which closely resembles ChiRho, onto their standards and shields. 

Under this sigh you will conquer!

And they did. 

Is this why, when eventually Constantin won the war, he built the temple dedicated to "Archangel Michael", who is Like God, the commander of the heavenly army, the slayer of dragons, the guardian of the Gates of Heaven and the Tree of Life, the one who is between the Heaven and Earth?

What do you think, who is really Archangel Michael?