Professor Cooks 3,770-Year-Old Recipes From Mesopotamia and Shares Surprising Results

Ancient Mesopotamia Food

It's not unusual for people to use recipes from decades past as a way to explore what dishes were like from long ago, but Bill Sutherland took this idea to another level with his recent endeavor into ancient food preparation. Using a 3,770-year-old Mesopotamian tablet as his recipe book, the University of Cambridge professor cooked a now-viral feast that those living in 1750 BCE Babylon would’ve eaten.

So, what was on the menu? Many of the dishes sound like things we'd enjoy today. One entree was a “stew of lamb,” which Sutherland called “simple and delicious” and included barley cakes topped with crushed leek and garlic. Another was called Unwinding with sauteed leeks, spring onions, and sourdough crumbs. “Looks good but a bit boring,” Sutherland remarked in a tweet.

While many of the dishes called for conventional ingredients, there were some notable exceptions. The Elamite broth, for instance, instructed Sutherland to use sheep’s blood, which he substituted with tomato sauce.

The entire endeavor was not what Sutherland expected. “I am interested in history, so recreating these recipes just seemed fun,” Sutherland tells My Modern Met. “I was surprised by how easy it was to create these ancient meals with only a small amount of modification, and how tasty they were.”

University of Cambridge professor Bill Sutherland made ancient Mesopotamian food from 3,770 years ago.

Ancient Mesopotamia Food


Stew of Lamb

Ancient Mesopotamia FoodAncient Mesopotamia Food



Ancient Food

Ancient Mesopotamia Food



Ancient FoodAncient Food


Elamite Broth

Ancient FoodAncient FoodBill Sutherland: Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Bill Sutherland.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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