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Knowledge of the diet of people living in the prehistoric settlement of Çatalhöyük almost 8000 years ago has been complemented in astonishing scope and detail by analyzing proteins from their ceramic bowls and jars. Using this new approach, an international team of researchers has determined that vessels from this early farming site in central Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, contained cereals, legumes, dairy products and meat, in some cases narrowing food items down to specific species.

Source: Cuisine of early farmers revealed by analysis of proteins in pottery from Çatalhöyük

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Lets here it for technology. If not for such advancements, we would never have come this far in our discovery of the foods Paelolithic man really ate. Imagine the discoveries that were just thrown on the  trash heap because archaeologist at the time had no idea plant material could survive this long. Think of the grinding stones that were washed, all their valuable information of the past…gone forever!

Original article:

The guardian.com

Nicola DavisMon 16 Jul 2018 15.00 EDT

Tiny specks of bread found in fireplaces used by hunter-gatherers 14,000 years ago, predating agriculture by thousands of years

Charred crumbs found in a pair of ancient fireplaces have been identified as the earliest examples of bread, suggesting it was being prepared long before the dawn of agriculture.

The remains – tiny lumps a few millimetres in size – were discovered by archaeologists at a site in the Black Desert in north-east Jordan.

Using radiocarbon-dating of charred plant materials found within the hearths, the team found the fireplaces were used just over 14,000 years ago.

“Bread has been seen as a product of agriculturist, settled societies, but our evidence from Jordan now basically predates the onset of plant cultivation … by at least 3,000 years,” said Dr Tobias Richter, co-author of the study from the University of Copenhagen, noting that fully-fledged agriculture in the Levant is believed to have emerged around 8,000 BC.

“So bread was being made by hunter-gatherers before they started to cultivate any plants,” he said.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Richter and colleagues from Denmark and the UK describe how during excavations between 2012 and 2015 they found the crumbs in the fireplaces of a site used by hunter-gatherers known as Natufians, who foraged for wild grains.

Among the remains, the team unearthed small, round tubers of a wetland plant known as club-rush, traces of legumes and plants belonging to the cabbage family, wild cereals including some ground wheat and barley – and 642 small charred lumps.

Analysis of 24 of these lumps revealed they are bread-like – with the others expected to be similar.

“They are charred breadcrumbs, sort of what you might find at the bottom of your toaster at home – the sort of stuff that falls off when you put it on high power,” said Richter.

Further analyses revealed that 15 of the 24 crumbs contain tissues from cereal plants – probably, says Richter, from barley, einkorn wheat or oats.

Some of the crumbs were also found to contain ingredients from other plants, with the team saying club-rush tuber is the most likely candidate.

What’s more, the analysis of the crumbs suggests the flour used to make the bread might have been sieved, while the team say the lack of an oven means the bread was probably baked in the ashes of the fire, or on a hot stone.

The team say the crumbs appear most likely to be from a sort of unleavened flat bread.

While the newly discovered crumbs are now the earliest bread remains found so far, taking the title from remains found at the site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey and dated to about 9,100 years ago, the team say the food might have emerged even earlier.

“Food remains have long been ignored in archaeology, and therefore have not been sufficiently studied,” said Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, first author of the study from the University of Copenhagen. “I’m sure that if we look at older sites, we may find bread-like cereal products during the Paleolithic [for example] 25,000 years ago.”

Richter said it is unlikely the bread found at the Natufian site was consumed as a staple, given it would have been very labour intensive to gather and process the grains. While the team suggest the bread could have been made by the hunter-gatherers for their onward journey, they say other evidence adds weight to the idea it could have been part of a feast or ritual event.

“[The older fireplace] also had a number of gazelle [bones] in it from at least a dozen or more animals as well as water birds and hare,” said Richter. “So it looks like a bit of a meal [shared] between a larger group of people, like a little feast that was then discarded in the fireplace.”

Amy Bogaard, professor of Neolithic and bronze age archaeology at the University of Oxford and who was not involved in the research, described the study as fascinating. “We previously knew that these communities were grinding and preparing plants in various ways, but this study is the first to identify actual bread-like remains of this early date,” she said. “ In terms of food history, it suggests that preparation of flatbread-like foods long predates the establishment of agriculture, and that farming in this region emerged within a pre-established culture of grinding and baking.”

While the team have yet to recreate the recipe, Richter says they have tried bread made with club-rush tubers, offering a clue as to how the ancient bread might have tasted.

“It tastes a little bit salty, so it is probably not to our particular tastes in the present,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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This is a market stall in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) in 2003.
Credit: Photo by Michael Frachetti

Original article:

Eurekalert.org

 

27-Mar-2018

Washington University in St. Louis

Like passionate foodies who know the best places to eat in every town, Silk Road nomads may have been the gastronomic elites of the Medieval Ages, enjoying diets much more diverse than their sedentary urban counterparts, suggests a new collaborative study from Washington University in St. Louis, the Institute of Archaeology in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and Kiel University in Germany.

“Historians have long thought that urban centers along the Silk Road were cosmopolitan melting pots where culinary and cultural influences from far off places came together, but our research shows that nomadic communities were probably the real the movers and shakers of food culture,” said Taylor Hermes of Kiel University, lead author of the study forthcoming in Scientific Reports and a 2007 graduate of Washington University.

Based on an isotopic analysis of human bones exhumed from ancient cemeteries across Central Asia, the study suggests that nomadic groups drew sustenance from a diverse smorgasbord of foods, whereas urban communities seemed stuck with a much more limited and perhaps monotonous menu — a diet often heavy in locally produced cereal grains.

“The ‘Silk Road’ has been generally understood in terms of valuable commodities that moved great distances, but the people themselves were often left out,” Hermes said. “Food patterns are an excellent way to learn about the links between culture and environment, uncovering important human experiences in this great system of connectivity.”

Said Cheryl Makarewicz, an archaeology professor at Kiel and Hermes’ mentor: “Pastoralists are stereotypically understood as clinging to a limited diet comprised of nothing but the meat and milk of their livestock. But, this study clearly demonstrates that Silk Road pastoralists, unlike their more urbane counterparts, accessed all kinds of wild and domesticated foodstuffs that made for a unexpectedly diverse diet.”

“This study provides a unique glimpse into the important ways that nomads cross cut regional settings and likely spread new foods and even cuisine along the Silk Roads, more than a thousand years ago,” said study co-author Michael Frachetti, associate professor of anthropology at Washington University.

“More specifically, this study illustrates the nuanced condition of localism and globalism that defined urban centers of the time, while highlighting the capacity of more mobile communities — such as nomadic herders — to be the essential fiber that fueled social networks and vectors of cultural changes,” Frachetti said.

For this study, human bones exhumed at archaeological digs in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were transported to Kiel University in Germany, where they were analyzed by Hermes. To be thorough, he also collected previously published isotopic data for the time period to bring together a complete regional picture.

“Prior to this study, there were massive gaps in what we knew about human dietary diversity along the Silk Roads,” Hermes said. “The datasets were simply not there. We were able to greatly increase the geographical coverage, especially by adding samples from Uzbekistan, where many of the important routes and population centers were located.”

The study draws upon field work and museum collections as part of a longstanding scientific partnership between Washington University and the Institute of Archaeology in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The study’s assessment of individual dietary regimens is made possible by studying the isotopic signatures in ancient human bones, allowing the researchers to unlock a trove of information about the food sources, including the proportions and types of plants and animals consumed by individuals over the last decades of life.

Stable isotope analysis is the “gold standard” for tracing ancient diets. Makarewicz, a specialist in the technique, has applied it to understanding major evolutionary transitions from hunting and gathering to agriculture in the Near East. She is starting a new interdisciplinary ERC research project exploring the spread of herding across Eurasia.

Other co-authors include Elissa Bullion, a doctoral student in anthropology at Washington University and two researchers from the Uzbek partnership: Farhod Maksudov and Samariddin Mustafokulov.

Hermes, who has worked with Frachetti on archaeological digs across Central Asia for more than a decade, used these isotopic analysis techniques on human bones recovered from about a dozen nomadic and urban burial sites dating from the 2nd to 13th centuries A.D.

The burial sites were associated with a wide range of communities, climates and geographic locations, including a recently discovered settlement high in the mountains of Uzbekistan, the Otrar Oasis in Kazakhstan and an urban complex on the lowland plains of Turkmenistan.

While previous archaeological excavations at these sites have confirmed the ancient presence of domesticated crop plants and herd animals, their importance in urban diets was unknown. Isotopic analysis, however, shows how important these foods were over the long-term.

“The advantage of studying human bones is that these tissues reflect multi-year dietary habits of an individual,” Hermes said. “By measuring carbon isotope ratios, we can estimate the percentage of someone’s diet that came from specific categories of plants, such as wheat and barley or millet. Millets have a very distinctive carbon isotope signature, and differing ratios of nitrogen isotopes tell us about whether someone ate a mostly plant-based diet or consumed foods from higher up on the food chain, such as meat and milk from sheep or goats.”

This study discovered interesting dietary differences between urban settlements along the Silk Road, but surprisingly little dietary diversity among individuals living within these communities. Perhaps driven by the limits of local environments, food production networks or cultural mandates, most people within each urban setting had similar diets.

Diets of individual nomads within the same community were found to be much more diverse. These differences, perhaps a function of variable lifetime mobility patterns, the availability of wild or domesticated food options or personal preferences, suggest that nomadic groups were not as bound by cultural limitations that may have been imposed on urban dwellers, Hermes said.

“Nomads and urbanites had different dietary niches, and this reflects a combination of environment and cultural choices that influenced diet across the Silk Roads,” Hermes said. “While many historians may have assumed that interactions along the Silk Road would have led to the homogenization of culinary practices, our study shows that this was not the case, especially for urban dwellers.”

For now, Hermes, Frachetti, Makarewicz and their collaborators in Samarkand look forward to applying these isotopic techniques to new archaeological mysteries across Central Asia.

“We hope our results lead to a paradigm shift in how historical phenomena can be examined through the very people who made these cultural systems possible,” Hermes said. “The results here are exciting, and while not the final word by any means, pave a new way forward in applying scientific methods to the ancient world.”

“For close to 10 years our academic collaboration has yielded fascinating new discoveries in archaeology and has also fostered new international partnerships, such as the one spearheaded by Taylor Hermes, to carry out archaeological science at Kiel,” Frachetti said. “This international approach is what enables us all — as a team — to maximize the scientific potential of our collaborative fieldwork and laboratory studies in Uzbekistan for the advancement of historical and environmental knowledge more globally.”

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Another interesting read.

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms:

all Linear A ideograms grainsThe chart above lists almost all of the Linear A words and ideograms for cereals + general Linear A ideograms. The Linear A Semitic words and ideograms for cereals are identical to those found on Linear A tablets HT 86 and HT 95 (Haghia Triada). Simply refer to the previous posts on these two highly significant Linear A tablets to confirm these interpretations. Also found in this chart are general Linear A ideograms, the majority of which are identical to their Linear B counterparts, which should come as no surprise to anyone, considering that the Linear B syllabary is merely a refinement of the Linear A syllabary.

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Ibtimes.co.uk

By Martha Henriques

The wooden box still has traces of the grains it carried in 1500 BCE.

An incredibly rare wooden container from the Bronze Age has been discovered on the Lötschberg mountain in Switzerland, still with detectable traces of the grains that the box contained.

The box was found at the summit of the Lötschenpass, a transit through a glacier, at an elevation of about 2,650 metres above sea level. It’s thought to have remained frozen since it was lost or abandoned by its owner in 1500 BCE.

Such discoveries are rare. Only one other similar artefact has been discovered, found in another alpine pass, the Schnidejoch, about 25km to the west of the Lötschenpass. Perhaps the most famous discovery from the ice-packed Alps is Ötzi the iceman, a human discovered dating from about 3300 BCE.

Analysis of the box showed traces of spelt, emmer and barley, according to a study in the journal Scientific Reports. The research is the first time that such detailed information on food contents has been retrieved from a Bronze Age artefact.

“The box has this kind of strange amorphous residue on it. Cereal grains quite rarely survive thousands of years. Sometimes they survive when they’re charred, but then they lose some of their diagnostic traits,” study author Jessica Hendy of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany told IBTimes UK. “Now we have a method to study this in a lot more detail.”

Instead of relying on the preservation of whole grains to identify a species, preserved molecules can be used to trace which grain they came from.

“What we’re doing here is extracting biomolecules from residue and identified a marker for cereals. We’d like to apply this to less well-preserved remains. What’s quite exciting is that it can be applied to lots of different cases.”

This could help shed light on how cereal farming developed in Bronze Age Europe, shedding light on the social and political structures of the time.

“We knew that cereals were around but don’t how important they were in the general economy. Now we’ve developed this, we can try to apply it more widely to understand how important cereals were for these early farmers.”

 

 

 

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Barley Field

Barley Field

 

Ancient mortars holes Native American

Ancient mortars holes Native American THESE MORTARS could well be similar to the ones discussed in the following article.

 

Original article:

Eurkalert.org

PUBLIC RELEASE: 26-AUG-2015

BAR-ILAN UNIVERSITY

 

Team including researchers from Bar-Ilan University and Harvard University unravel the mystery of 12,500-year-old rock-cut mortars found throughout Southwestern Asia.

 

Using 12,500-year-old conical mortars carved into bedrock, they reconstructed how their ancient ancestors processed wild barley to produce groat meals, as well as a delicacy that might be termed “proto-pita” – small loaves of coal-baked, unleavened bread. In so doing, they re-enacted a critical moment in the rise of civilization: the emergence of wild-grain-based nutrition, some 2,000 to 3,000 years before our hunter-gatherer forebears would establish the sedentary farming communities which were the hallmark of the “Neolithic Revolution”.

The research team, consisting of independent researchers as well as faculty members from Bar-Ilan and Harvard Universities, conducted their study in the Late Natufian site of Huzuq Musa, located in Israel’s Jordan Valley. Their findings were published in the journal Plos One on July 31, 2015.

When Did Agriculture Begin?

Most investigators agree that cereal domestication was achieved about 10,500 years ago. The current work demonstrates how groat meals and fine flour were produced from wild barley, two to three millennia before the appearance of domesticated grains.

According to Prof. Mordechai Kislev, an expert in archaeo-botony who is a member of Bar-Ilan University’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, the team’s field work resolved a long-standing mystery about thousands of cone-shaped hollows carved into the bedrock throughout the Southern Levant.

“The conical, human-made hollows, found all over Southeast Asia, were noticed by archaeologists decades ago, but there was no agreement about their function,” Prof. Kislev says. “Assuming they were mortars used for the processing of plant food, my colleagues – under the direction of archaeologist Dr. David Eitam – decided to use these ancient stone tools, along with period-appropriate items such wooden pestles, sticks and sieves, to reconstruct how the work was done.”

Along with Eitam and Kislev, additional members of the team were physicist Adiel Karty and Prof. Ofer Bar-Yosef, a member of Harvard University’s Department of Anthropology.

From Field to Food Ingredient

The experiment began by collecting spikelets – the coated grains of a cereal ear – from wild barley, the most common wild cereal in the Levant both in prehistory and today. After ripening on the ground to prevent them from scattering in the wind, the grains were then separated from the stalks, first by beating against the threshing floor with a curved stick, and subsequently, by sifting them through a large-holed sieve.

“At this point, the conical mortars were used to complete the transformation of wild grain into groats and flour that could be used for food,” says team member Adiel Karty, explaining that the different-sized mortars served specific agricultural purposes. “Filled with a measure of the raw grain and beaten with a wooden pestle, the wider cones were used for hummeling – removal of the bristle that extends from the edge of the seed,” he explains. “The narrower cones came into play during the next stage, when the same wooden pestle was used to remove the grain husk; the Natufians invented a peeling-milling machine long before the invention of machinery!”

After de-husking, the grain was scooped out of the conical mortar by hand then placed into a small cup cut in the adjacent bedrock. From there, it was transferred for filtering in a small-gauge sieve.

“We found that de-husking – and the later milling into flour – was significantly aided by the presence of these cup-like depressions, which could be used to deposit material produced in the mortar by repeated hand-scooping from its bottom,” says Dr. Eitam. “This was a kind of labor-saving device, making it easier to transfer the grain and waste material to a sieve or other vessel.”

Evolution and Contribution

Prof. Ofer Bar-Yosef, an emeritus faculty member at Harvard who is a world-renowned expert on the origin of modern humans and early farming societies in the ancient Near East, says that the current study complements nearly 80 years of investigations suggesting that the Natufians – although subsisting as a hunter-gatherer society – used sickles to harvest wild, almost-ripe cereals, and were capable of producing large quantities of groat meals from roasted, “half green” barley grain. Moreover, the technological advance from wide-to narrow-cone mortars represented a major dietary change, because de-husked flour made it possible to produce the fine flour needed for what has become the Western world’s most widespread staple food: bread.

“With the development of a new agro-technological system, including threshing floors, peeling utensils and milling devices, the Natufians bequeathed to their Neolithic successors a technical advancement that contributed to the establishment of agricultural societies,” Prof. Bar-Yosef says.

Bon Appetite! Barley Bread for (Nearly) All

Prof. Kislev points out that the barley-processing “facilities” found at the site indicate that stone-utensil-produced flour could have been a significant part of the local Natufian diet.

“Huzuq Musa is estimated to have had a population of about a hundred people,” he says. “If we assume that the historical 35 liters of grain given to a Roman worker during the winter corresponds to a reasonable level of nutrition, the four large threshing floors discovered near the site – and its accompanying tools – could have produced a sufficient quantity of processed barley for its estimated inhabitants.”

“Producing food from wild barley grain was not easy, but the biggest challenge may have been the challenge of not harvesting all the wild grain in the field, and ensuring that there would be something left to eat the following year,” he says. “This Natufian advance was a bridge to the Neolithic revolution, when sedentary farmers developed the discipline needed to plan for the successful planting – and reaping – of domesticated grains.”

According to Dr. Eitam, the majority of scholars agree that Natufian culture was characterized by the first communities that inhabited permanent settlements. “Our discovery of this sophisticated agro-technological system indicates that Natufian society made the shift from hunting-gathering to an agriculture-based economy, which was possibly extant 3,000 years before the domestication of cereal,” he says.

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e13/9206113/files/2015/01/img_1465.jpg
Plant particles found during the excavation of this Neolithic cemetery in Nubia (Sudan) turned out to be traces of domestic cereals when analyzed in a lab. Copyright: D. Usai/ S. Salvatori

Humans in Africa already exploited domestic cereals 7,000 years ago and thus several centuries earlier than previously known. Researchers have successfully verified ancient barley and wheat residues in grave goods and on teeth from two Neolithic cemeteries in North and Central Sudan.

The results of the analyses were recently published (online) in the journal PLoS ONE.

Dr. Welmoed Out from the University of Kiel was involved in the investigation. “With our results we can verify that people along the Nile did not only exploit gathered wild plants and animals but even crops of barley and wheat.”

These were first cultivated in the Middle East about 10,500 years ago and spread out from there to Central and South Asia as well as to Europe and North Africa – the latter faster than expected. “The diversity of the diet was much greater than previously assumed,” states Out and adds: “Moreover, the fact that grains were placed in the graves of the deceased implies that they had a special, symbolic meaning.”

The research team, coordinated by Welmoed Out and the environmental archaeologist Marco Madella from Barcelona, used a special high-quality light microscope as well as radiocarbon analyses for age determination. Mineral plant particles, so-called phytoliths, survive for a very long time, even when other plant remains are no longer discernible. In addition, calculus on the teeth provide evidence about the diet of these prehistoric humans due to the starch granules and phytoliths.

Read full paper here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0110177

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e13/9206113/files/2015/01/img_1466.jpg
One of the graves at the Neolithic cemetery in Nubia (Sudan), containing a skeleton and plant material deposited behind the skull (white structure at the left picture margin). Copyright: D. Usai/ S. Salvatori

Original article:
past horizons
November 26, 2014 by past horizons

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