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Were ancient religions the product of hallucinogenic mushrooms?
Did mycotoxins cause the plague of Athens?
Did poisonous mushrooms kill the emperor?

Frank Dugan sifts the evidence, separates hype and hyperbole from factual and plausible events, and conclusively demonstrates that fungi have strongly influenced western civilization from its very beginnings.

Fungi in the ancient world included edible, poisonous and psychoactive mushrooms, potent yeasts for brewing and baking, and pathogens of plants, humans and animals. Fungi and their impacts were recorded in art, literature, folklore, and myth.

Fungi in the Ancient World is a comprehensive review on the impact of fungi in helping to shape ancient civilizations. Mushrooms, mildews, molds, and yeast had a surprisingly profound impact on: diet, custom, politics, religion; human, animal, plant health; art, folklore, and the beginnings of science. This insightful book is a gateway to current methodologies for investigation of the co-evolution of plants, fungi, and humans from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages.
This well documented book presents reproductions and descriptions of fungal motifs in ancient art, myth, and folklore that enable direct examination of evidence by any reader, professional or lay. Interdisciplinary in scope, this detailed and illustrated book includes a historical perspective on co-evolution of fungi with early agriculture that provides documented summaries of contemporary research in this area, from archaeology to molecular-genetics. It also delivers a historical perspective on the impact of fungi on human and animal health in early times, with examples of current methods used to assess historical impacts of mycotoxins, allergens, and pathogens. Translations and summaries from relevant ancient Greek, Roman, Sumerian and other texts are included, demonstrating how ancients themselves observed and recorded significant impacts of fungi.
Peer reviewed for accuracy and balance, the book provides multiple perspectives from professionals in mycology, plant pathology, ancient history, and folklore. It summarizes a wide range of highly controversial published views on the impact of fungi on customs, folklore, and religion. In doing this, the title presents perspectives on what is probable, plausible, or improbable in this highly debated area that helped form western civilization.

Fungi in the Ancient World will be of interest to mycologists, plant pathologists, historians, folklorists, plant breeders, anthropologists, ethnobotanists, ethnomycologists, and others interested in fungi’s impact on ancient history. Extensively referenced and indexed.
Frank Dugan, the author, is a Research Plant Pathologist with the USDA-ARS Western Regional Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research Station at Washington State University. He was formerly a Collection Scientist for Mycology and Botany at American Type Culture Collections, and spent his career managing and researching diverse collections of fungal and higher plant germplasm. Dr. Dugan is also the author of the best-selling, critically acclaimed APS PRESS book The Identification of Fungi: An Illustrated Introduction with Keys, Glossary, and Guide to Literature.

Fungi in the Ancient World: How Mushrooms, Mildews, Molds, and Yeast Shaped the Early Civilizations of Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Fungi in Baking and Brewing

Baking: Light Bread and Heavy Ovens
Brewing: Fermentation Products and Deities
Wine in Feasting and Daily Life in Greece and Rome

Chapter 3: Edible Fungi

Mycophagy in Greece and Rome
Mycophagy in Other Cultures

Chapter 4: Fungi as “Entheogens”

Fungi, Philology, and Mythology
Matriarchies, Tanists, and Ritual Sacrifice

Chapter 5: Poisonous Fungi and Mycotoxins

Poisonous Fungi
Summary of Ancient Storage Practices
Experiments Duplicating Ancient Storage Practices or Using Ancient Crops
Ancient Historical Events Speculatively Attributed to Mycotoxins
Wheezing and Sneezing: Molded Feed, Hay, and Silage

Chapter 6: Fungi Used for Medicinal Purposes and Other Technologies

Panaceas and Pyrotechnics
Lichens as Remedies and Fabric Dyes

Chapter 7: Plant-Pathogenic Fungi

Ancient Agriculture, Landraces of Crop Plants, and Fungal Plant Pathogens
The Ancient Near East
Greco-Roman Antiquity
Europe North of the Mediterranean
Spread of Plant Pathogens via Transport of Seeds

Chapter 8: Fungi as Agents of Rot on Wood and Fabric

Tsara’at = Mold
Conservation of Artifacts

Chapter 9: Human and Animal Pathogens

Ringworm and Other Nasties
Fungi and Healing Rituals

Chapter 10: Environmental and Ecological Roles of Fungi

Coprophilous Fungi and Archaeobotany
What Killed the Elms?

Chapter 11: Ancient Fungi Preserved in Glacial Ice or Permafrost

Ice and Permafrost
The Iceman
Caveats to the Study of Ancient Fungal DNA

Chapter 12: Ancient Images of Fungi

Phalli and the Dancing Myco-Shamans
Greco-Roman Images
Agarics and Huns

Chapter 13: Fungi in Ancient European Folklore

Eastern European Pagans
Western Europe
The Celts and Fairies
The Anglo-Saxon Charms
Etruscan Echoes

Chapter 14: Ideas of the Ancients on Fungal Biology

Biology without a Microscope

Chapter 15: Some Additional Hypotheses Regarding the Impact of Fungi in Ancient Times

Plant Pathogens and the History of Agriculture
Fermented Beverages and Social Structure
Psychoactive Fungi and the Evolution of Consciousness
Manna from Heaven

Chapter 16: Conclusions

Literature Cited

“The publication aims especially at readers with general historical and cultural interest. It provides ample stimuli not only to plant pathologists to more closely follow up the described examples and phenomena.”
—Journal of Phytopathology

 “…this book will make a welcome contribution to the bookshelf of many an interested mycologist.”

“…easy to read and provides an interesting and sometimes conjectural view of how fungi played a role in molding (no pun intended!) the course of history… useful as an overview of what literature and documentation is available to demonstrate how fungi influence the early civilizations, and would be a good reference book for those wishing to explore the subject matter.”
“…simple and easy to understand style and fully references his discussions. For those wanting an easy bedtime read on the impact of fungi in society than I can recommend this book. It is also of value to students of fungi, especially as it is fully referenced."
—Plant Protection Quarterly

“This format happily makes the book very accessible. The style of writing is very readable…a little gem, covering topics on which it is not easy to find information elsewhere, and can be unreservedly recommended.”

“Frank Dugan has written his book in a lively manner and provides a good list of citations. For an introduction to the history of how fungi have made humans miserable, and how people have used fungi to make themselves feel less miserable, this is a nice addition to the literature.”
—Mycological Research

“…an interesting little book and certainly worth a read…should be available in all college and university libraries and research institutions.”
—Fungal Diversity

“…this book will no doubt be THE starting place for anyone researching mycology and mycolatry of ancient cultures…or merely investigating ancient folklore. I would recommend this book to academics, reseachers, and grad students in mycology and plant pathology, but hose outside the academic world woulrd also enjoy the book as well.”
—FUNGI Magazine

Publish Date: 2008
Format: 6" x 9" softcover
ISBN: 978-0-89054-361-0
Pages: 152
Images: 13 black and white images
Publication Weight: 2 lbs

By Frank Matthews Dugan

Fungi in the Ancient World: How Mushrooms, Mildews, Molds, and Yeast Shaped the Early Civilizations of Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East

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