we humans can’t do it Stop messing with our food. Think of all the different ways to eat potatoes – there are whole books devoted to potato recipes. The restaurant industry was born out of our love for seasoning food in new and exciting ways.
My team’s analysis of the oldest remains of charred food ever found shows that enliven dinners are a human habit dating back at least 70,000 years.
real paleo diet
Imagine ancient people sharing a meal. You’d be forgiven for imagining people shredding ingredients or grilling meat over a fire because that’s the stereotype.But our new research shows that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens There are complex diets that involve several steps of preparation and efforts to season and use plants with bitter and pungent flavors.
This level of culinary sophistication has never been documented before for Paleolithic hunter-gatherers.
Prior to our study, the earliest known remains of plant food in Southwest Asia came from a hunter-gatherer site in Jordan, reported in 2018, dating to approximately 14,400 years ago.
We examined food remains from two Upper Paleolithic sites covering a time span of nearly 60,000 years to understand the diets of early hunter-gatherers. Our evidence is based on prepared vegetable food fragments (such as burnt slices of bread, meatloaf and porridge cubes) found in two caves. To the naked eye or under a low-powered microscope, they look like carbonized debris or chunks with fused seed fragments. But powerful scanning electron microscopes allow us to see plant cells in detail.
We found fragments of carbonized food approximately 13,000-11,500 years ago at Franchthi Cave (Aegean Sea, Greece). At Franchthi Cave, we found fragments of a finely ground food, possibly bread, batter, or a kind of porridge, in addition to a kibble rich in legumes.
In the Shanidar Cave (Zagros, Iraqi Kurdistan), which is associated with early modern humans about 40,000 years ago and Neanderthals about 70,000 years ago, we also found ancient food fragments. This includes wild mustard and turpentine (wild pistachios) mixed into food. We found weed seeds mixed with legumes in the charred remains of Neanderthal strata. Shanidar’s previous research found traces of grass seeds in the tartar of Neanderthal teeth.
At both sites we often find ground or mashed beans seeds such as vetch (vetch avila), grass peas (Lathyrus), and vetch (pea). The people who lived in these caves added the seeds to a mixture that was heated with water while grinding, mashing, or pounding the soaked seeds.
Most wild bean blends are characterized by a bitter mixture. In modern cooking, these beans are often soaked, heated and hulled (removed of the seed coat) to reduce their bitterness and toxins. The ancient remains we’ve found suggest humans have been doing this for tens of thousands of years. But the fact that the seed coat was not completely removed suggests that these people wanted to retain a bit of the bitter taste.
hunter-gatherers have taste
Wild mustard, with its distinctive pungent taste, is a condiment well documented in the Ceramic Age (beginning of rural life in Southwest Asia, 8500 BC) and in later Neolithic sites in the region. During the Late Paleolithic (40,000-10,000 years ago). They are included in dishes based on herbs, tubers, meat and fish and give a special taste to the finished product. As a result, these plants have been eaten for tens of thousands of years in areas separated by thousands of miles. These dishes may be the origin of human culinary habits.
Based on the plant evidence found during this period, there is no doubt that the diets of both Neanderthals and early modern humans included a variety of plants. Previous research has found food residues in the tartar on the teeth of Neanderthals in Europe and Southwest Asia, suggesting they cooked and ate grasses and tubers such as wild barley and medicinal plants. Carbonized plant remains suggest they gathered beans and pine nuts.
Plant residues found on grinding or pounding tools from the Upper Paleolithic in Europe suggest that early modern humans crushed and roasted weed seeds. Remains from Upper Paleolithic sites in the eastern European steppes show that ancient peoples pounded the tubers before eating them.Archaeological evidence from South Africa as early as 100,000 years ago shows that Homo sapiens Use crushed weed seeds.
Although both Neanderthals and early modern humans ate plants, this was not consistently shown in the stable isotope evidence from bones, which tells us about the main source of protein in a person’s diet throughout life. Recent studies have shown that Neanderthal populations in Europe were apex carnivores.research shows Homo sapiens Their diet appears to have been more varied, with a higher proportion of plants, than Neanderthals. But we are convinced that our evidence of early culinary complexity is the start of many discoveries at early hunter-gatherer sites in the region.
This article was originally published on conversation by Ceren Kabukcu at the University of Liverpool. Read the original article here.