What Kind of Food Did the Ancient Babylonians Eat?

Ancient Babylonian cuisine was rich and varied, including meat from cows, sheep, goats, pig, deer and fowl, as well as eggs, fish, shellfish and even turtles. Stews were common, with Akkadian records providing 21 different meat stew recipes and four different vegetable stew recipes.

Among the vegetables eaten by the ancient Babylonians were beets, peas, arugula, lettuce, turnips, legumes (such as chickpeas) and mushrooms. They were especially fond of using onions in their cooking, along with all of its related plants, such as garlic, scallions and leeks. Grains were also common, including pearl barley and oats.

Fruits enjoyed by the ancient Babylonians included apples, figs and pomegranates.

The ancient Babylonians were particularly interested in flavoring their food and used a range of herbs and spices. These included mint, coriander and chives, among others. Condiments, such as a pickled fish sauce (siqqu), were also used, while honey, dates, grape juice and raisins were favored for sweetening dishes.

For cooking, a variety of oils and fats were used, such as clarified butter and animal fat, as well as sesame, linseed and olive oils.

The presentation of food was important to the ancient Babylonians, who used a selection of fresh greens, chicken gizzards, pastry crusts and even bird feathers to garnish their meals.