Ancient Tastes: Tradition and Change in Hellenistic Athens

Saturday 09 Mar 2024

Athens, a great political and cultural power in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, did not cease to be an important city during the Hellenistic period, despite the decrease in its importance due to new political and cultural centres. 

But what was its culinary place in the Hellenistic world? Evidence provided from archaeological material, literary sources and food remains reveal that, despite the strength of the conservative Athenian character, there were many changes and innovations, especially in food preparation and cooking techniques. In affluent houses the dining became more elaborate and sophisticated. Even the wine-soaked classical symposium changed; the focus moved from wine to complex banquets where food had a prominent role. The diet of the average, non-elite individual was quite simple whereas the poor ate the cheapest food available for sustenance. 

A lecture on food tradition and change in the cuisines of Hellenistic Athens will be followed by a dinner of foods that were served at the tables of the affluent and the poor. Participants will try dishes inspired by historical recipes and prepared according to experimental archaeology. You will receive a glimpse into Hellenistic Athenian cuisines and discover the taste of the past.   

View the menu here.


17:30 – 18:30 – talk

18:30 – 19:00 – interval with wine serving, olives and cheese

19:00 – 21:00 – dinner

Additional information

About Mariana Kavroulaki

Having studied Sociology and Archaeology, Mariana Kavroulaki specialises in experimental, sensory and public food-archaeology. Kavroulaki is the founder of Greek Culinary History and Cooking Adventures, a studio which explores the evolution of Greek cuisine throughout the centuries and encourages people to rethink historical dining, class, genre and ancient food politics through experimental food- archaeology, multi-sensory history-themed dinners, workshops and interactive lectures. Kavroulaki  is also the founder and organiser of the Symposia of Greek Gastronomy, biennial weekend-long meetings at which academics, food writers, cooks, activists, artists and  locals discuss issues within Greek food. 

Kavroulaki has presented papers on a wide variety of topics on Greek food and beyond, winning the Gourmand World Award 2012 for her book ‘The Language of Taste’. Her most recent work involves the manners in which the senses are used as a hermeneutic tool for interpreting material culture and ancient foods as well as  the invented identities and the ways in which modern Cretans consume the antiquity through their food. She has been a member of the Administrative Council of the Historical, Folklore and Archaeological Society of Crete and is Secretary-General of the Carob of Crete (Society for the Cultivation of Natural and Cultural Development of the Carob Tree in Crete). 


The Hellenic Centre


£85/80 concession | Bookings via Eventbrite or 020 7487 5060