One of the things I really love about the Sunday market is its unpredictability! Of course, I love buying my favourites like the hummus and flatbreads from https://www.facebook.com/moistbristol/, the delicious award-winning cheeses from the Bath Soft Cheese Company https://parkfarm.co.uk/ the Scotch eggs from http://www.nuttsscotcheggs.co.uk/ especially those encased in smoked salmon, and those fabulous meringues from https://www.mayringues.co.uk/
And of course, I am dearly hoping that http://www.emylouholmes.com/ a will be there on December 2nd because I would so like to purchase some of her beautiful Christmas cards.
However, every time without fail there are a number of new stalls, as was the case on Sunday 4th November.
I thought at first I was seeing things, for there in the distance, at the junction of Hill Road and Bellevue Road was a sign saying ‘Ancient Mesopotamia’! It took me back to O Level history lessons and learning about the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Persian Empires and all that these ancient civilisations had bequeathed to the world. It reminded me of one of my favourite Agatha Christie novels ‘Murder in Mesopotamia’, set at an archaeological excavation on the banks of the River Tigris in Iraq.
I felt quite excited as I approached the tent; I could not imagine what they would be selling! I was not disappointed! Ancient Mesopotamia sell the most beautifully packaged, handmade soaps, made today after more than 2000 years, using the same traditional soap making techniques. They contain no perfume, artificial colours or preservatives; they are not tested on animals and they are 100% biodegradable. The key ingredients are quite simply, olive oil, water and sodium with varying percentages of pistachio oil, laurel berry oil and almond oil.
In Greek, Mesopotamia means ‘land between the rivers’, and refers to the land between the two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which flow from eastern Turkey, through present-day Iraq, to The Gulf; the Euphrates also takes in a large part of northern Syria. It was known as the Fertile Crescent because of its rich soil and half-moon shape. The first human beings to farm and domesticate animals lived in the fertile crescent around 10,000 BC; being so fertile, many crops thrived including wheat, rye, barley, and legumes. They developed irrigation systems and raised sheep for wool.
Although current thinking is that there was no single cradle of civilisation Mesopotamia is often referred to as such because some of the most influential early city-states and first emerged there notably the Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian, and Babylonian civilizations. Evidence shows extensive use of technology, literature, legal codes, philosophy, religion, and architecture in these societies.
And soap! The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BC – 2200BC (where oils in soaps began) in ancient Babylon, the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia and a centre for learning, law, science, and mathematics as well as art. The formula for soap consisting of water, alkali, and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet.
David and Magenta, owners of Ancient Mesopotamia, explained that they import these cultural soaps from Soapmakers in the same historical areas where they were first skillfully made and have continued to be made by generations of Soapmakers’ families. They are hand-cut and dried stored for months with the original ingredients unchanged for centuries.
I chose two soaps; Christmas presents for individuals who will appreciate their authenticity and their cultural and historical significance – Nabulus and Antiocha Soaps.
Nabulus Soap is from the ancient olive groves of Palestine made with 100% pressed olive oil, containing vitamins E and K, for delicate and sensitive dry skin, suitable for all ages especially children.
Antiochia Soap from ancient Antioch is made from untreated olive and laurel berry trees, and consisting of 65% first pressed olive oil, 35% pure laurel berry oil and distilled water. It is described as a natural moisturiser and anti-bacterial, calming sensitive skin and leaving skin soft, nourished and silky.
“Ancient Mesopotamia: continuing the ethical and sustainable ethos, the culture and spirit of the first Soapmakers of the world remarkably, still handmade today from the original historical areas while supporting their families.”