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On this day ten years ago…
via History of Chocolate Timeline

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On this day ten years ago…
via Maya “Painted Pyramid” Reveals 1st Murals of Daily Life

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Sciencedaily.com

Despite the growing importance of farmed fish for economies and diets around the world, the origins of aquaculture remain unknown. The Shijing, the oldest surviving collection of ancient Chinese poetry, mentions carp being reared in a pond circa 1140 BC, and historical records describe carp being raised in artificial ponds and paddy fields in East Asia by the first millennium BC. But considering rice paddy fields in China date all the way back to the fifth millennium BC, researchers from Lake Biwa Museum in Kusatu, Japan, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in Norwich, U.K., and an international team of colleagues set out to discover whether carp aquaculture in China was practiced earlier than previously thought.

Carp farming goes way back in Early Neolithic Jiahu

Jiahu, located in Henan, China, is known for the early domestication of rice and pigs, as well the early development of fermented beverages, bone flutes, and possibly writing. This history of early development, combined with archaeological findings suggesting the presence of large expanses of water, made Jiahu an ideal location for the present study.

Researchers measured 588 pharyngeal carp teeth extracted from fish remains in Jiahu corresponding with three separate Neolithic periods, and compared the body-length distributions with findings from other sites and a modern sample of carp raised in Matsukawa Village, Japan. While the remains from the first two periods revealed unimodal patterns of body-length distribution peaking at or near carp maturity, the remains of Period III (6200-5700 BC) displayed bimodal distribution, with one peak at 350-400 mm corresponding with sexual maturity, and another at 150-200 mm.

This bimodal distribution identified by researchers was similar to that documented at the Iron Age Asahi site in Japan (circa 400 BC — AD 100), and is indicative of a managed system of carp aquaculture that until now was unidentified in Neolithic China. “In such fisheries,” the study notes, “a large number of cyprinids were caught during the spawning season and processed as preserved food. At the same time, some carp were kept alive and released into confined, human regulated waters where they spawned naturally and their offspring grew by feeding on available resources. In autumn, water was drained from the ponds and the fish harvested, with body-length distributions showing two peaks due to the presence of both immature and mature individuals.”

Species-composition ratios support findings, indicate cultural preferences

The size of the fish wasn’t the only piece of evidence researchers found supporting carp management at Jiahu. In East Asian lakes and rivers, crucian carp are typically more abundant than common carp, but common carp comprised roughly 75% of cyprinid remains found at Jiahu. This high proportion of less-prevalent fish indicates a cultural preference for common carp and the presence of aquaculture sophisticated enough to provide it.

Based on the analysis of carp remains from Jiahu and data from previous studies, researchers hypothesize three stages of aquaculture development in prehistoric East Asia. In Stage 1, humans fished the marshy areas where carp gather during spawning season. In Stage 2, these marshy ecotones were managed by digging channels and controlling water levels and circulation so the carp could spawn and the juveniles later harvested. Stage 3 involved constant human management, including using spawning beds to control reproduction and fish ponds or paddy fields to manage adolescents.

Although rice paddy fields have not yet been identified at Jiahu, the evolution of carp aquaculture with wet rice agriculture seems to be connected, and the coevolution of the two is an important topic for future research.

Materials provided by Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

 

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A collection of pottery from the Heuneberg archaeological site.
Victor S Brigola

 

Analysis of ceramic vessels throws new light on social customs

By Natalie Parletta
Cosmosmagazine.com

Residues from ceramics found at an archaeological site in Germany suggest that Early Celts from all social classes drank generous quantities of Mediterranean wine long before they started importing drinking vessels from the region.

The discovery by a researcher team led by Maxime Rageot, from Germany’s University of Tübingen, challenges notions that wine was always reserved for the elite.

The Heuneberg site, north of the Alps in Baden-Wuerttemberg, has provided significant insights into early urbanisation in central Europe, and a wealth of archaeological evidence points to the importance of intercultural Mediterranean connections in shaping Early Iron Age societies around 500-700 BCE.

Rageot and colleagues set out to explore a new facet of this process by investigating the transformation of consumption practices, particularly drinking. The findings are reported in the journal PLOS ONE.

A rich collection of ceramics and imported Mediterranean goods used for feasting have been found throughout the settlement.

The researchers used gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to extract organic residues from 126 local vessels and seven imported Attic ceramics, including goblets, beakers and bowls used for drinking, jugs and bottles for serving beverages, and vessels used for food preparation and storage.

They found evidence of Mediterranean grape wine from short-chain carboxylic compounds, including succinic, fumaric, malic and tartaric acids.

“Tartaric acid is usually considered to be a grape product/wine marker because of its high concentration in grapes in contrast to other fruits available in Europe during the Early Iron Age,” Rageot says.

The other compounds tartaric acid was found with are recognised markers of wine fermentation. There is no evidence of grape seeds or winemaking in central Europe, the authors note, so it must have been imported.

These were discovered before the first clear evidence of Mediterranean feasting vessels being introduced in the final Hallstatt of the Early Iron Age, evidence that trade took place before the ceramic imports.

They also found other evidence of fermentation from plant or bee-products, suggesting the production of local alcoholic beverages including possibly mead.

The residues were notably found in a range of local vessels from different parts of the settlement that reflect different social classes. Markers of dairy and millet were also revealed, suggesting foods such as porridge were consumed from the same vessels.

“These results pose an important challenge to the notion that Early Celtic elites preferred consuming wine as a means of demonstrating their high status,” write the authors.

After the goblets were imported, however, wine appeared to be restricted to those in the elite plateau. Vessels from the lower town contained more food remnants.

This increased specialisation suggests the Celts adopted more Mediterranean-style feasting practices with greater social distinction, which “coincided with a clear change in function and meaning of wine consumption”.

This distinction, the authors note, continued into later Celtic society when the Greek author Poseidonius recounts that elite Celts drank wine while lower classes drank beer.

“These novel commensal practices seem to have served as a means of creating/enforcing their identities and to further establish/secure their position in society,” they write.

The findings provide new insights into Early Celtic consumption practices, and of “their complex transformation over time, which was certainly influenced in part by the dynamics of intercultural encounter with the Mediterranean”.

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On this day ten years ago…
via Early Human Hunters Had Fewer Meat-Sharing Rituals

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On this day ten years ago…
via Fine Wine & a Piss-Poor Vintage

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