Archaeology Magazine

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Traces of Cinnamon Found in 3,000-Year-Old Vessels

Thursday, August 22, 2013

CinammonCeramicsTEL AVIV, ISRAEL—Cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its flavor, has been found in ten out of 27 flasks collected from five archaeological sites in Israel. The spice, which was only found in southern India and Sri Lanka 3,000 years ago, indicates that there may have been a long-range spice trade in place at the time. The dry spice would have been imported and mixed with a liquid, then stored in the thick-walled flasks with narrow openings that had been made by the Phonecians living in northern coastal Israel. “We don’t think they sailed directly [to the Far East]; it was a very hard task even in the sixteenth century A.D.,” said Dvory Namdar of the Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University.