And then, there’s cheesecake…


While puzzling out a new plot, I decided to celebrate the launch of my e-book, The Lake Is on Fire with a cup of tea and a substantial piece of cheesecake. I was about to take my first bite when Mike said, “Cheesecake is nearly three thousand years old.”

I eyed the wedge of cake in front of me. It looked fresh and full of calories.

“I read,” Mike went on, “that cheesecake was served to the athletes at the first Olympic games. That’s in 776 BCE. What’s more,” he added, warming to the theme, “excavated cheese molds were found that probably dated back to 2000 BCE.”

Eating the (very new and fresh) cheesecake in front of me, I began wondering whether there really was anything new under the sun. Silks and pasta, I knew, had come by way of Marco Polo’s trek to China, and tomatoes were offerings from the new world. But what about other things we take for granted?

So I did a little research and, not surprisingly, fabric was first on my list. What did surprise me was that fibers were spun into yarn and then knitted or woven or netted into fabric in the Middle East during the late stone age! Apparently there were fashionistas back then, too. What about the surely modern camera, then? Apparently the camera is an adaptation of the camera oscura  which was developed in ancient China! And, speaking of China, I found that rhubarb had its roots—no pun intended— in ancient history and was cultivated also in China as a purgative and was  reported to have been given to help the emperor Wu  who reigned back in 557. Another interesting thing about rhubarb was that one of the great pharmacologists of ancient Greek, Discorides,  spoke of a root called ‘rha’ which grew on the banks of the Volga and which had purgative properties. So Rhubarb did get around some.

I then turned to scissors—something we take so much for granted and something which is necessary to daily living. Apparently this useful tool was invented in ancient Egypt back around 1500 BCE while another simpler version of the scissors turned up in Mesopotamia 3,000 to 4,000 years ago! So much for the scissors– but surely, the computer only arrived with the 20th century? But, no. I learned that the Antikythera mechanism supposedly the earliest mechanical analog computer, goes back to 100 BCE!

As for books, there is the Epic of Gilgamesh—the oldest known literary work—which 3,000 years ago was written in Babylonia and was later buried in the jumbled ruins of a Mesopotamian palace until 1840, when it was unearthed near Mosul by an archeologist.

That says a lot for the power and endurance of the written word. But here is a footnote: it has been said that there is really but one plot in the entire world, and that is the struggle of good against evil. So perhaps the plots that we labor over and write and rewrite with pain and pleasure have been thought of and written in a time much older than we can even imagine.

So much for my plot. Ah, well. There is another slice of cheesecake in the fridge.

All that is written…

Was it thought of long ago

Before we were born?


"I'd Rather Be There"

“I’d Rather Be There”



About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

5 responses »

  1. Maureen,
    Great minds were thinking long ago too! Ones with great taste too, I would add. Wonder how old the oldest written recipe is, cheesecake or otherwise. Do you think the first one appeared as a cave drawing?

  2. I think the cheesecake appeared in Greece… but who knows? Where there was cheese and sweetener and somebody with a yen for something yummy…. it is a comfort to me that ancients always liked rich, fattening, delicious treats!! 🙂

  3. Dear Maureen,
    I do love your blog posts and I love cheesecake, too. Interesting to see all that’s been here for ages and ages. Glad you ate new and fresh cheesecake. Research leads to fun and interesting facts. Thanks for sharing.

    Celebrate you and your husband’s love of research
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

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