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I just had to share this. All about food with amazing photos,envoking both the ancient and modern.  JLP

 

Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of national feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go. – Anthony Bourdain If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. – J.R.R. […]

via Everything We Are — Steve McCurry’s Blog

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Lama

Forbes.com

 

An archaeologist working at a site along the north coast of Peru recently discovered a cooking pot carefully buried under a house floor. The simple, well-used pot contained portions of a llama’s face as well as a mishmash of other ingredients that may have been chosen for what they represented rather than how they tasted.

The pot was discovered at Wasi Huachuma, a site dating to between 600-850 AD. This period of history involved increased urbanization, irrigation, and other changes to the Moche culture in Peru. By the end of the era, environmental and political instability had led to interpersonal conflict. Wasi Huachuma was positioned just a few kilometers from three different centers of power in this unstable environment, and itself had seven distinct sectors. The most complex part of the site included residential structures, terraces, and a cemetery.

Underneath one house floor in this complex sector was a standard cooking pot, “on its side, with the mouth opening to the east and splash zone of botanical and faunal materials surrounding it,” found by archaeologist Guy Duke of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, who published his analysis in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal. Its shape, he noticed, was similar to those found elsewhere in this time period in Peru, often used for boiling and brewing chicha (corn beer) and stews.

The pot was not a new one; Duke saw evidence of burning on the outside and inside that suggested it had been used before. And the contents of the pot were surprising. Duke reports that he found bones from domestic animals in the pot, including guinea pig and llama that had been raised locally. Additionally, maize, common beans, squash, potato, and chili pepper were found, along with crabs, flathead mullet, and the plant coca.

“While the method of cooking was simple – add ingredients plus water to the pot, heat to boil,” Duke says,  “understanding how and whether to apply particular knowledge was dependent on the material.” For example, butchering the llama to extract the jaw piece requires different skills than cleaning a deep sea fish or preparing potatoes and squash. Even more importantly, most of the stew’s ingredients had ritual significance based on what archaeologists know about the Moche culture. Camelids like llamas produced wool, were eaten, and were also ritually important; maize or corn figures into Moche iconography; fish were sometimes burial offerings.

All of these ingredients, while commonly eaten, did not add up to any known Moche stew recipe. Because the stew pot was buried underneath a house, purposefully marked by a stone, Duke surmises that “the vessel and its contents were a dedicatory offering of some sort.” He explains that “this deposit, in this location, was purposeful, intentional, and laden with meaning. Each element of it was chosen from an array of materials available, some from the local fields and seas, some from much further afield, though not necessarily any less familiar. The materials assembled in this dedicatory deposit neatly bundle together the various geographic and environmental regions accessed by the Moche.”

Zooarchaeologist Tanya Peres of Florida State University is impressed by Duke’s work, telling me that his research “is critical in teaching us about the nuanced ways in which food items, cookware, and culinary tools, when analyzed contextually, lend us information about foodways, social and ceremonial meanings.” Peres is particularly intrigued by what the pot may have meant to the person or people who put it there. “Were the animal and plant remains placed in the vessel at different points in the Moche calendars? Might this be evidence of an older generation maintaining the old customs? Or a younger generation adopting new ways of practicing Moche culture?”

Duke essentially sees the pot and its stew as an “amalgam of products with a variety of social significances, from the practical to the supernatural, all of which were part of the everyday lived experience of a Moche person.” Peres agrees and notes that “the way Duke tells the story of the pot, the entirety of Moche culinary knowledge is wrapped up in this one vessel. It is a compelling, evidence-based foodways story.”

While the discovery of the stew pot and its contents is unique in ancient Peru, Duke believes that “the convergences of these foods, these practices, at this obscure site highlight the intricate interconnectedness of the surrounding area and the regions beyond. This singular deposit encapsulates the role of the everyday in the special and, perhaps even more importantly, the special in the everyday.”

 

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New discoveries made at the Klasies River Cave in South Africa’s southern Cape, where charred food remains from hearths were found, provide the first archaeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were roasting and eating plant starches, such as those from tubers and rhizomes, as early as 120,000 years ago.

Source: Earliest evidence of the cooking and eating of starch

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Cosmos magazine.com

Neanderthals were top level carnivores, even after the arrival of modern humans, chemical analysis indicates.

The finding, based on measures of nitrogen and carbon isotopes in two samples of Neanderthal collagen gathered from two sites in France, confirm a carnivorous diet.

It also does not support previously published suggestions that Neanderthals dined on putrid carrion left behind by other carnivores, or freshwater fish.

The latest research, led by Klervia Jaouen from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, tested carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios on single amino acids from collagen samples from Neanderthals recovered from sites at Les Cottés and Grotte du Renne. They conducted similar tests on faunal remains recovered from the same area.

The Neanderthal collagen, the scientists report in the journal PNAS, showed “exceptionally high [nitrogen] isotope ratios in their bulk bone or tooth collagen”.

The results, Jaouen and colleagues report, were wholly consistent with “mammal meat consumption”. There was no need to invoke other food sources, such as fish or mushrooms, nor food processes, such as cooking or fermentation arising from rot, to explain the readings.

The scientists acknowledge that their results do not preclude the occasional consumption of other food types and sources. However, they say, the isotope values of the Neanderthals strongly supports the contention that their main protein sources was “due to the consumption of different herbivores from different environments”.

 

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A new paper argues that early human ancestors acquired a taste for fat long before they began hunting for meat by scavenging marrow from the skeletal remains of large animals.

Source: A taste for fat may have made us human, says study

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Giza Plateau 2018

 

Original Article:

By DANIEL WEISS

Archaeology.org

 

A large number of livestock bones found in a mound of settlement debris on Egypt’s Giza Plateau are offering possible insights into the diet of workers who toiled there some 4,500 years ago. Amid the debris, archaeologists from Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) have unearthed sealings dating to the reign of the 4th Dynasty pharaoh Khafre (r. ca. 2520–2494 B.C.), along with chunks of painted plaster suggesting the material is from wealthy settlements.

They also found a concentration of long, meat-bearing sheep and goat bones, many of whose ends had been snapped off. Two Egyptian archaeologists taking part in a field school at the site immediately recognized that the snapped-off ends were likely used to make gelatin soup, a cheap source of protein enjoyed to this day in Egypt. AERA director Mark Lehner suggests the meat from the bones was likely reserved for the area’s elites, while workers—quite possibly those who built Khafre’s pyramid, the second largest in Giza—were allotted the bone ends to make a protein-rich stew.

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Source: The Neolithic PalatePrint

Europe’s historical hunger for tasty food—spices, specifically—helped drive the Age of Exploration. When did flavorful food become so important that it would eventually change the course of human history? It is difficult to say because plant remains rarely last, and it can be a fool’s errand to speculate how they were used thousands of years ago. Now, however, in 6,000-year-old pottery from Denmark and Germany, a team of researchers has found phytoliths, small bits of silica that form in the tissues of some plants, from garlic mustard seeds, which carry strong, peppery flavor but little nutritional value.

Because they were found alongside residues of meat and fish, the seed remnants represent the earliest known direct evidence of spicing in European cuisine. According to researcher Hayley Saul of the University of York, “It certainly contributes important information about the prehistoric roots of this practice, which eventually culminated in globally significant processes and events.”

 

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