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Original Article:

cbsnews.com

 

BERLIN – Scientists say a previously unknown group of Stone Age farmers may have introduced agriculture to South Asia, challenging earlier theories that attributed the spread of farming to a different population.

Previous research held that a single group of hunter-gatherers developed agriculture in the Middle East some 10,000 years ago and then migrated to Europe, Asia and Africa, where they gradually replaced or mixed with the local population.

But scientists who analyzed ancient human remains found in the Zagros mountains of present-day Iran say they belonged to a completely separate people who appear to have taken up farming around the same time as their cousins further west in Anatolia, now Turkey.

“There was this idea that there’d been one group of genius inventors who developed agriculture,” said Joachim Burger, one of the authors of the study published online Thursday in the journal Science. “Now we can see there were genetically diverse groups.”

Scientists from Europe, the United States and Iran who examined the DNA of 9,000 to 10,000-year-old bone fragments discovered in a cave near Eslamabad, 600 kilometers (370 miles) southwest of the Iranian capital of Tehran, found they belonged to a man with black hair, brown eyes and dark skin.

Intriguingly, the man’s diet included cereals, a sign that he had learned how to cultivate crops, said Fereidoun Biglari of National Museum of Iran, who was also involved in the study.

Along with three other ancient genomes from the Zagros mountains, researchers were able to piece together a picture of a population whose closest modern relatives can be found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and among members of Iran’s Zoroastrian religious community, said Biglari.

The Zagros people had very different genes than modern Europeans or their crop-planting ancestors in western Anatolia and Greece, said Burger, an anthropologist and population geneticist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

He said the study’s authors calculated that the two populations likely split at least 50,000 years ago, shortly after humans first ventured out of Africa.

Burger said even though the two ancient farming populations didn’t mix, it’s probable that they knew of – and even learned from – each other, given that the development of agriculture is highly complex and therefore unlikely to have spontaneously occurred twice around the same time.

“You have to build houses, clear forests, cultivate several plants and ensure a plentiful supply of water. You also have to domesticate several animals, be able to grind flour, bake bread,” said Burger. “This is a huge process that takes several thousand years.”

Burger said the findings could help shed light on important developments in human history that have been neglected due to researchers’ long habit of focusing on ancient migratory movements into Europe.

IMG_1232Original article

ca.finance.yahoo.com

Beer. It’s not the most ideal payment to take home in exchange for a day’s work: it might spill, it could get warm, it might get polluted with dirt, dust and whatever insects are drawn to the sweet nectar while on the road, or you might not make it home at all.
But employers in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk, located in modern-day Iraq, certainly knew how to treat their workers to a good time.

A roughly 5,000-year-old cuneiform stone tablet, in possession of the British Museum in London, shows how workers were paid their daily rations in liquid gold.
According to the New Scientist the tablet is the world’s oldest paycheck.
“On one tablet excavated from (Uruk) we can see a human head eating from a bowl, meaning ‘ration,’ and a conical vessel, meaning ‘beer,’” writes the New Scientist’s Alison George.
“Scattered around are scratches recording the amount of beer for a particular worker.”
The artifact’s entry on the British Museum’s page on Google Arts & Culture indicates that the tablet was made around 3100 to 3000 BC.

It adds that beer was the most popular beverage in Mesopotamia because it was “safer” and “maybe tastier than water.” (Writer’s note: there’s no debate about the second part.)
But this isn’t the only case in history of workers receiving beer for their daily responsibilities. In ancient Egypt, workers who undertook the grueling task of building the received a “daily ration of four to five liters.”

There are also records of poet and the “Father of English literature” Geoffrey Chaucher receiving a yearly salary of 252 gallons of wine from Richard II.
And this practice isn’t exclusive to ancient history. There is a trend of tech companies keeping refrigerators stocked with cold brews and letting them imbibe at the office.
So drink up, fellow proletariats.
By Michael Shulman | Insight – Tue, 28 Jun, 2016 12:55 PM EDT

Food Quotes

I’ve been away house hunting in New Mexico where I am happy to say we will be moving this fall.
I have a lot of packing to do and I might add posts to catch up on.
First, my husband in trolling the internet found these wonderful food quotes for me.
I thought you might like them.
JLP.

Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods. A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building.” By Carlo Petrini

“A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.” Willa Cather, ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop’ (1927)

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, in water there is bacteria.” -David Auerbach
“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” -Harriet van Horne
“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” – Jonathan Swift

Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.
Clifton Fadiman (1904-1999) American editor and writer.

Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.
Marcus Tulius Cicero (106-43 BC) Writer, politician and great roman orator.

Abstain from beans.
Plutarch (46-120) Greek essayist, and biographer.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

J.R.R. Tolkien
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
― Hippocrates

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
― Laurie Colwin

“All sorrows are less with bread. ”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”
― Alice May Brock

“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.”
― Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
“Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
“The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.

–The Fruit Hunters”
― Thomas Jefferson, The Quotable Jefferson

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
― James Beard

“A writing cook and a cooking writer must be bold at the desk as well as the stove.”
― Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher

“Perhaps this war will make it simpler for us to go back to some of the old ways we knew before we came over to this land and made the Big Money. Perhaps, even, we will remember how to make good bread again.

It does not cost much. It is pleasant: one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with peace, and the house filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells. But it takes a lot of time. If you can find that, the rest is easy. And if you cannot rightly find it, make it, for probably there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
― Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf

“Indigenous foods die when no one learns to cook them.”
― Jean Zimmerman, Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth

A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do. ~P.J. O’Rourke

Proust had his madeleines; I am devastated by the scent of yeast bread rising. ~Bert Greene

Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It is not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life. ~Lionel Poilane
Fish, to taste right, must swim three times — in water, in butter, and in wine. ~Polish Proverb
Worries go down better with soup. ~Jewish Proverb

Provided it be well and truly made there is really for the confirmed turophile no such thing as a bad cheese. A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality. ~Clifton Fadiman, “The Cheese Stands Alone,” Any Number Can Play, 1957

This is the kind of plant that endears itself to a teenage boy. These weren’t vegetables, they were weapons! And it was legal to grow them. ~James Gorman, about hot peppers (habaneros), “A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies,” New York Times, September 20, 2010

There were green infernos and green terrors, yellow jackets and yellow furies, red torrids and red frenzies. ~James Street (1903–1954), “The Grains of Paradise”

imageSource: 12,000-Year-Old Hearth, Artifacts Unearthed in Utah

A Georgian-Italian archaeological expedition has discovered vine pollen in a zoomorphic vessel used in ritual ceremonies by the Kura-Araxes population.

Source: Wine used in ritual ceremonies 5000 years ago in Georgia, the cradle of viticulture

A 22-pound lump of bog butter. (Photo courtesy of Cavan Museum)

A 22-pound lump of bog butter. (Photo courtesy of Cavan Museum)

Original Article:

By Travis M. Andrews June 14

washingtonpost.com

 

Finding buried treasure is a dream as old as stories themselves. Treasure chests overflowing with gold doubloons, shiny lamps containing genies, gargantuan lumps of butter that are thousands of years old.

Okay, maybe most don’t dream of unearthing enormous chunks of butter, but that’s exactly what Jack Conway discovered in the Emlagh bog in County Meath, Ireland, at the beginning of June, Atlas Obscura reported.

Conway is a turf cutter, meaning he harvests “turf” or peat — it’s a type of moss — from a bog to burn for warmth during the winter. He was chopping turf at the bog when he came across a 22-pound chunk of butter, the Irish Times reported. Researchers at the Cavan Museum estimated it to be more than 2,000 years old.

Bog butter is just that: butter made from cow’s milk that’s been buried in a bog, though, after thousands of years, it often has the consistency of cheese.

It’s actually not that uncommon of a find for turf cutters in Ireland, either. As Smithsonian magazine noted, a 3,000-year-old, three-foot-wide barrel stuffed with 77 pounds of bog butter was found in 2009. Even more shocking, turf cutters found a 5,000-year-old wooden keg containing 100 pounds of the butter in 2013.

People have actually been stumbling upon bog butter for at least two centuries. In the 1892 edition of the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, the Rev. James O’Laverty recounts finding a lump that “still retains the marks of the hand and fingers of the ancient dame who pressed it into its present shape” and that “tastes somewhat like cheese.”

In her article “Bog Butter: A Two Thousand Year History” in the Journal of Irish Archaeology, Caroline Earwood wrote: “It is usually found as a whitish, solid mass of fatty material with a distinctive, pungent and slightly offensive smell. It is found either as a lump, or in containers which are most often made of wood but include baskets and skins.”

The earliest discoveries of bog butter date to the Iron Age, but she wrote that it may have existed earlier.

No one is sure exactly why the butter was buried in bogs — some think it was sometimes an offering to the gods — but evidence strongly suggests it was a method of preservation.

Most bog butter doesn’t contain salt, which was often used as a means of preserving food before modern refrigeration. The bogs, which are essentially cold-water swamps, and their native peat do a fine job of keeping food fresh. A University of Michigan researcher found that meat left in a bog for two years was just as preserved as meat kept in his freezer, the University Record reported in 1995.

Peat is compressed plant matter, which Nature reported is both cool and contains little oxygen while remaining highly acidic, allowing it to act as a sort of refrigerator. It seems to work — Savina Donohoe, curator of Cavan County Museum who sent Conway’s butter lump to the National Museum of Ireland, said it smelled just like, well, butter.

“It did smell like butter. After I had held it in my hands, my hands really did smell of butter,” Donohoe told UTV Ireland. “There was even a smell of butter in the room it was in.”

In fact, peat bogs are such wonderful environments for preserving organic matter, they’ve been known to almost perfectly mummify corpses.

Hundreds of “bog bodies” have been found during the past two centuries, according to the USA Today. The oldest one unearthed is a preserved skeleton called the Koelbjerg Woman, which dates to about 8000 B.C.

Other bodies, though, retain their skin and internal organs. The Tollund Man, for example, still had his leathery skin intact when he was found in the Bjaeldskovdal bog in Denmark and is considered by some to be the most well preserved body ever found from prehistoric times. He was so well preserved that the men who found him thought they had stumbled on a modern murder scene, PBS reported. He was actually about 2,400 years old.

Given that level of preservation, most of the butter is edible. Irish celebrity chef Kevin Thornton, who owns the Michelin-starred Thornton’s Restaurant in Dublin, claimed to have tasted a 4,000-year-old sample of bog butter.

“I was really excited about it. We tasted it,” he told the Irish Independent in 2014. “There’s fermentation but it’s not fermentation because it’s gone way beyond that. Then you get this taste coming down or right up through your nose.”

Andy Halpin, assistant keeper in the Cavan Museum’s Irish antiquities division, said one could probably eat the butter, though he’s not sure why one would.

“Theoretically the stuff is still edible, but we wouldn’t say it’s advisable,” Halpin told the Irish Times.

Curious what it might taste like, Ben Reade, head of culinary research and development at Nordic Food Lab created his own bog butter, albeit one aged for a bit less time than the aforementioned.

Echoing the lines from James Farewell’s 1689 poem “The Irish Hudibras” — “butter to eat with their hog, was seven years buried in a bog” — they buried one large birch barrel of butter in the ground, where it will remain for seven years. The other remained in the ground for only three months, before it was tasted at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen and at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery in 2012, in Britain.

He wrote of the flavors:

In its time underground the butter did not go rancid, as one would expect butter of the same quality to do in a fridge over the same time. The organoleptic qualities of this product were too many surprising, causing disgust in some and enjoyment in others. The fat absorbs a considerable amount of flavor from its surroundings, gaining flavor notes which were described primarily as “animal” or “gamey,” “moss,” “funky,” “pungent,” and “salami.” These characteristics are certainly far-flung from the creamy acidity of a freshly made cultured butter, but have been found useful in the kitchen especially with strong and pungent dishes, in a similar manner to aged ghee.

Even so, if you happen to find a lump of butter buried in the back yard, it may be best to forgo it for the store-bought variety.

The mammoth was found on the left bank of Yenisey river, not far from Sopochnaya Karga meterological station. Pictures: Vladimir Pitulko, Alexei Tikhonov

The mammoth was found on the left bank of Yenisey river, not far from Sopochnaya Karga meterological station. Pictures: Vladimir Pitulko, Alexei Tikhonov

inside_excavations_1

 

Original article:

siberiantimes.com

By Anna Liesowska

30 May 2016

 

When Science journal earlier this year highlighted an ancient woolly mammoth with suspected spear wounds it provoked media interest around the world. Until now, the pictures of the remarkable prehistoric ‘injuries’ were not widely seen outside academic circles.

Today The Siberian Times is publishing the images which respected Russian scientists believe is clear proof of ancient man’s attacks on a creature preserved in the permafrost.

If true, the implications are enormous. It would mean, firstly, that man was present in the frozen Arctic wastes a full 10,000 years earlier than previously understood.

Yet it would also establish that early Siberians were just 2,895 miles (4,660 kilometres) from what was then a land bridge between modern Russia and Alaska. A long distance, for sure, but far from insurmountable, opening the possibility that Stone Age Siberians colonised the Americas at this early point.

The 15-year-old male mammoth died on the eastern bank of the giant Yenisei River in northern Siberia, and its remains were found by a 11 year old schoolboy in 2012. It is known variously as the Zhenya mammoth, after the boy who found it, and the Sopkarginsky mammoth, deriving from the location where it was found.

Forensic analysis of the remains – which included still-preserved soft tissue – found evidence that the animal, now long extinct, was hunted and killed by early man using primitive weapons and tools made of bone and stone.

Dr Vladimir Pitulko, lead author of the study published in Science, told The Siberian Times: ‘Most likely the hunters threw relatively light spears. It is a usual hunting tactic, in particular in elephant hunts, which is still practiced in Africa.

‘An elephant is bombarded with a large number of light spears. Then, pierced with such ‘needles’ like a hedgehog, the animal starts losing blood. Even a light spear can penetrate quite deep and injure the vital organs.

‘The mobility of the animal is seriously limited, and then it is soon possible to finish it with a strait blow. I think that the same happened to the Sopkarginsky mammoth.’

He said: ‘The most remarkable injury is to the fifth left rib, caused by a slicing blow, inflicted from the front and somewhat from above in a downward direction. Although it was a glancing blow, it was strong enough to go through skin and muscles and damage the bone.

‘A similar but less powerful blow also damaged the second right front rib. Such blows were aimed at internal organs and/or blood vessels.

‘The mammoth was also hit in the left scapula at least three times. Two of these injuries were imparted by a weapon, which went downwards through the skin and muscles, moving from the top and side. These markings indicate injuries evidently left by relatively light throwing spears.

‘A much more powerful blow damaged the spine of the left scapula. It may have been imparted by a thrusting spear, practically straight from the front at the level of the coracoid process. The weapon went through the shoulder skin and muscle, almost completely perforating the spine of the scapula.

‘Taking into account the scapula’s location in the skeleton and the estimated height of this mammoth, the point of impact would be approximately 1500 mm high, in other words, the height of an adult human’s shoulder.’

Another injury – possibly evidence of a mis-directed blow – was spotted on the left jugal bone. The blow was evidently very strong and was suffered by the animal from the left back and from top down, which is only possible if the animal was lying down on the ground.

Dr Pitulko, of the Institute for the History of Material Culture in St Petersburg, believes that it was ‘the final blow’, which was aimed to the base of the trunk.

Modern elephant hunters still use this method ‘to cut major arteries and cause mortal bleeding’. Yet in this case the prehistoric hunters obviously missed and struck the jugal bone instead.

Luckily the spear left the clear trace on the bone, making possible to learn what kind of weapon it was.

The bone was studied with X-ray computed tomography – a CT scan – by Dr Konstantin Kuper, from the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics in Novosibirsk. He also created a 3D model of the injury in the bone. This led to the conclusion that the tip of the weapon was made of stone and had a thinned symmetric outline – and was relatively sharp.

Paleontologist Dr Alexei Tikhonov, from the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg, who lead the excavations, said: ‘It’s hard to say which blow was the mortal one, at least judging by the traces on the bones.

‘There was quite a strong blow to the scapula, yet I think it was rather the totality of wounds that caused the death. It is interesting that the most of the injuries are on the left side of the animal.

‘I would suppose that the hunters could attack the mammoth which was already lying on the ground. When we examined the skull, we noticed the abnormal development of the upper jaw.

‘We believe that this mammoth got a kind of injury at a very young age, which impacted on its left side. There was no left tusk and I presume that the left side was weak, so it could help the hunters kill the animal.’

The injuries found on the bones also gave clues what did the hunters with the mammoth after they killed it. The right tusk had the traces of human interference on the tip of the tusk.

They did not try and pull the entire tusk off the killed mammal but instead tried to remove ‘long slivers of ivory with sharp edges, which were usable as butchering tools’, said Dr Pitulko.

A butchery mark was also found on the fifth left rib, seen as evidence that the hunters cut meat from the carcass to take it with them. Ancient man also extracted the mammoth tongue, seen as a probable delicacy to these hunters.

Yet the theory that the animal was butchered does not convince all experts.

Dr Robert Park, a professor of anthropology at the University of Waterloo in Canada, wrote in an email to Discover, that the skeleton is not consistent with other evidence from early human hunters.

He wrote: ‘The most convincing evidence that it wasn’t butchered is the fact that the archaeologists recovered the mammoth’s fat hump. Hunter-gatherers in high latitudes need fat both for its food value and as fuel. So the one part of the animal that we would not expect hunters to leave behind is fat.’

But Dr Pitulko countered: ‘Yes, ancient man – and not so ancient, in fact – has used and uses animal fat as fuel and food, nothing to argue about here. Why in this very case they did not use their prey in full is impossible to say.

‘There may be dozens of reasons, for example – they could not – the carcass was lying at the water’s edge, and it was late autumn. Or they did not have time: the carcass fell into the water on thin coastal ice. Or it did not correspond to their plans – they killed the poor animal just to have a meal and replenish the supply of food for a small group.’

They might have killed another animal nearer to their camp, and so abandoned this one. He said ‘a thousand and one reasons’ might explain not purloining the fat.

The expert added: ‘I believe that the main reason for hunting mammoths were their tusks. Mammoth as a source of food wasn’t very necessary although I believe they were useful.

‘People needed tusks because they were living in landscapes free of forests, so called mammoth steppe. In the course of time, a technology to produce spears out of tusks was developed.’

On the significance for the New World, he told Discovery the human role in killing the mammoth ‘is especially important’ because ‘now we know that eastern Siberia up to its Arctic limits was populated starting at roughly 50,000 years ago’.

 

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