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Ancient Herbs

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Ancient Herbs. By Marina Heilmeyer. Translated by David J. Baker. (Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum: 2007. Pg. 108. 55 color illustrations.) ISBN 13: 978-0-89236-884-6.


Reviewed by Angela Evans - March 26, 2007

Written by Marina Heilmeyer and translated into English by David J. Baker, Ancient Herbs takes the readers on a delightful survey of forty important plants and herbs of the ancient world. Concentrating primarily on plants used in ancient Greece and Rome, this book looks at herbs used not only for culinary purposes, but also for medicinal, religious, and cosmetic uses.

The text begins with an introduction to the history and use of herbs in the ancient world, and then moves on to alphabetically organized entries on the plants and herbs discussed in the book. Two pages of the text are devoted to each entry, with one page being given over to a narrative discussion on the plant in question, and the second page to an artistic rendering of the plant by Nees van Esenbeck.

The herbs covered in this text range from modern day stables such as rosemary, dill, and parsley, to less well-known herbs such as elecampane, St. John's wort, and mugwort. Plants such as olive, pomegranate and rose are also covered.

Ancient Herbs is a fascinating and informative book that will find a ready audience with both historians and horticulturists, as well as with anyone with an interest in ancient plants and their uses.


Related Reviews:

Gardens of Pompeii, by Annamaria Ciarallo.
In this book, Ciarallo details what plants where native to Pompeii, which were introduced, and what each plant was used for, with special attention given to medicinal plants and those used for dyes.

Gardens of the Roman World, by Patrick Bowe.
An overview of the history, influence, and function of the Roman gardens from imperial palace gardens and sacred gardens to public parks and market gardens.

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