National Geographic History September/October 2021

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United States
National Geographic Society
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min
from the editor

The “stuff as dreams are made on” is among Shakespeare’s most beautiful, evocative phrases and perhaps the polar opposite of the Book of Revelation, which I would describe as pure nightmare fuel. Filled with beasts, blood, and a bottomless pit (among other horrors), the text is what historian Elaine Pagels has called both the “strangest” and “most controversial” book in the Bible. Written around a.d. 98, Revelation foretells the end of the world, and many scholars believe the author was a war survivor, John of Patmos, who witnessed Roman forces destroy Jerusalem in a.d. 70. The text can be interpreted not only as a spiritual work but also as a contemporary condemnation of Roman power. The city of Babylon and all its evil creatures symbolize Rome and its emperors, and their…

3 min
egyptian city found after 3,400 years underground

PHARAOH AMENHOTEP III (ca 1390-1353 b.c.) ruled Egypt when the recently unearthed city was at its peak. His reign is known for many well-funded building projects, such as his palace complex at Malkata and his mortuary temple at Luxor. These projects required a steady flow of goods and provisioning that the recently discovered city supplied. EXCAVATIONS of what proved to be a sprawling metropolis began in September 2020 on the west bank of the Nile near Luxor, some 300 miles south of Cairo. The site is located between the temples of Ramses III and Amenhotep III. The recent unearthing of an ancient Egyptian industrial center has been hailed as the biggest find in the region since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb nearly a century ago. Located on the west bank of the Nile…

1 min
importance of everyday objects

EVERYDAY ARTISANS lived in the recently discovered metropolis, and their belongings are poised to give great insight into their lives. Project director Zahi Hawass believes “the discovery of the city will enrich our knowledge of the life of the artisans and workmen who made all the beautiful artifacts for the temples and palaces during the golden age of Amenhotep III.” So far, the town consists of three main districts: administrative, industrial, and residential. The industrial spaces included workshops for making garments and sandals as well as glass and metal workshops. There were studios for crafting amulets and small statues. The area for butchering meat provided clues to help date the city’s occupation. One of the jars found has text saying it contained 23 pounds of meat butchered in the courtyard…

1 min
sweet life of a master chef

1784 Marie-Antoine (later Antonin) Carême is born into poverty in Paris. Abandoned at age 10, he will find work in a tavern. 1803 Carême opens his own patisserie; within a couple years, he is hired by top diplomat Talleyrand to cook diplomatic banquets. 1810 Carême designs and bakes the wedding cake for the marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise of Austria. 1829 Carême draws on his vast experience to start writing his masterpiece, L’art de la cuisine française. 1833 Carême dies at age 48. His legacy as a great gastronome, practitioner, and theorist is assured.…

7 min
carême, the world’s first celebrity chef

From restaurant empires to countless cookbooks to cooking shows, celebrity chefs are everywhere in the modern world. Many credit television with their invention; while TV may have boosted the visibility of celebrity chefs, it did not invent them: 19th-century France did. In the decades following the French Revolution, Antonin Carême built the world’s first culinary empire—with shops, catering for royalty, and best-selling cookbooks. He published his first one in 1815, a combination of the encyclopedic and practical that exemplified his organized approach to cooking. It was the first comprehensive guide to the preparation of many classics of the French repertoire. Like modern-day professional chefs, he combined the roles of artist, scholar, and scientist, all generously garnished with self-promotion. Carême is best remembered today, however, for his brilliant pastries in the form of…

1 min
a hunger for fame

ANTONIN CARÊME elevated the status of the chef to new heights. The showmanship of his confections could be seen by all at his pastry shop, and his cookbooks appealed to a public eager for access to the art of haute cuisine previously limited to the aristocracy. As his popularity grew, he put self-portraits in his books so fans might recognize him. Royalty and high society bid for his services, but he often turned them down to write. When the composer Gioacchino Rossini was asked if he planned to tour America, he replied, “Only if Carême comes with me.”…