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Dozens of thermopolia, or snack bars, have been found across Pompeii. Photograph: Massimo Ossana/Instagram

By/angela-giuffrida

Theguardian.com

Thermopolia used by poorer residents with few cooking facilities, archaeologists say

A well-preserved frescoed “fast food” counter is among the latest discoveries unearthed by archaeologists in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

The 150 or so thermopolia, or snack bars, dotted across the city were mostly used by the poorer residents, who rarely had cooking facilities in their home, to grab a snack or drink. Typical menus included coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils and spicy wine.

An image of the 2,000-year old relic, found in Regio V, a 21.8-hectare (54-acre) site to the north of the archaeological park, was shared on Instagram by Massimo Ossana, the site’s outgoing superintendent.

“A thermopolium has been brought back to light, with its beautiful frescoed counter,” he wrote.

Dozens of other thermopolia have been found throughout the entire archaeological park. Regio V, which is not yet open to the public, is the most intensive dig at the site since the 1960s.

Excavations so far have yielded dozens of discoveries. In February, archaeologists found a stunningly preserved fresco depicting the mythological hunter Narcissus enraptured by his own reflection in a pool of water. Human remains have also been found, including the skeletons of two women and three children found huddled together in a villa. The remains of a harnessed horse and saddle were also found in late December.

Pompeii was destroyed in AD79 by an eruption that killed more than 2,000 people. The ruins were discovered in the 16th century and the first excavations began in 1748. Pompeii is one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world.

 

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An ancient woman from Romania shows an edgeto-edge bite (left). A Bronze Age man from Austria had a slight overbite (right).

 

By Ann Gibbons

Original article:

Sciencemag.org

Don’t like the F-word? Blame farmers and soft food. When humans switched to processed foods after the spread of agriculture, they put less wear and tear on their teeth. That changed the growth of their jaws, giving adults the overbites normal in children. Within a few thousand years, those slight overbites made it easy for people in farming cultures to fire off sounds like “f” and “v,” opening a world of new words.

The newly favored consonants, known as labiodentals, helped spur the diversification of languages in Europe and Asia at least 4000 years ago; they led to such changes as the replacement of the Proto-Indo-European patēr to Old English faeder about 1500 years ago, according to linguist and senior author Balthasar Bickel at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. The paper shows “that a cultural shift can change our biology in such a way that it affects our language,” says evolutionary morphologist Noreen Von Cramon-Taubadel of the University at Buffalo, part of the State University of New York system, who was not part of the study.

Postdocs Damián Blasi and Steven Moran in Bickel’s lab set out to test an idea proposed by the late American linguist Charles Hockett. He noted in 1985 that the languages of hunter-gatherers lacked labiodentals, and conjectured that their diet was partly responsible: Chewing gritty, fibrous foods puts force on the growing jaw bone and wears down molars. In response, the lower jaw grows larger, and the molars erupt farther and drift forward on the protruding lower jaw, so that the upper and lower teeth align. That edge-to-edge bite makes it harder to push the upper jaw forward to touch the lower lip, which is required to pronounce labiodentals. But other linguists rejected the idea, and Blasi says he, Moran, and their colleagues “expected to prove Hockett wrong.”

First, the six researchers used computer modeling to show that with an overbite, producing labiodentals takes 29% less effort than with an edge-to-edge bite. Then, they scrutinized the world’s languages and found that hunter-gatherer languages have only about one-fourth as many labiodentals as languages from farming societies. Finally, they looked at the relationships among languages, and found that labiodentals can spread quickly, so that the sounds could go from being rare to common in the 8000 years since the widespread adoption of agriculture and new food processing methods such as grinding grain into flour.

Bickel suggests that as more adults developed overbites, they accidentally began to use “f” and “v” more. In ancient India and Rome, labiodentals may have been a mark of status, signaling a softer diet and wealth, he says. Those consonants also spread through other language groups; today, they appear in 76% of Indo-European languages.

Linguist Nicholas Evans of Australian National University in Canberra finds the study’s “multimethod approach to the problem” convincing. Ian Maddieson, an emeritus linguist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, isn’t sure researchers tallied the labiodentals correctly but agrees that the study shows external factors like diet can alter the sounds of speech.

The findings also suggest our facility with f-words comes at a cost. As we lost our ancestral edge-to-edge bite, “we got new sounds but maybe it wasn’t so great for us,” Moran says. “Our lower jaws are shorter, we have impacted wisdom teeth, more crowding—and cavities.”

*Correction, 15 March, 11:10 a.m.: This story erroneously stated that the newly favored consonants led to the replacement of the Latin patēr to Old English faeder about 1500 years ago. Patēr came not from Latin, but from the Proto-Indo-European language that gave rise to Latin and other languages in Europe and Asia.

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By Bruce Bower

Sciencenews.org

In Europe, Stone Age hominids began adding small, fast animals to their menus much earlier than previously thought, scientists say.

Now-extinct members of the human genus, Homo, hunted rabbits and, to a lesser extent, hares in southern France and probably other Mediterranean parts of Europe by around 400,000 years ago, researchers report online March 6 in Science Advances. Hunters also bagged larger creatures such as wild goats and deer. The new finding may highlight the flexibility and innovativeness of these ancient relatives of humans.

That dietary shift to smaller animals away from eating primarily large game emerged long before a previously recognized change in ancient humans’ eating habits, concludes a team led by paleoanthropologist Eugène Morin of Trent University in Peterborough, Canada. In the later transition, Stone Age people dramatically broadened what they ate, including a wide variety of small animals, starting around 36,000 years ago.

Morin’s group studied 21 sets of animal fossils and stone tools previously excavated at eight sites in southern France. All but one collection included large numbers of fossil leporids, the family of rabbits and hares. Cuts made by stone tools, likely during butchery, appeared on leporid remains from 17 fossil sets. At the oldest site, Terra Amata, about half of 205 identified animal bones from a 400,000-year-old sediment layer belonged to leporids. Other small-game sites studied by the researchers dated to as recently as around 60,000 years ago.

Ancient Homo groups mainly hunted rabbits that probably existed in large numbers in Mediterranean areas ranging from Spain to Italy, Morin’s team suspects. Colony-dwelling rabbits were probably easier to hunt than hares, which are solitary animals. After 40,000 years ago, the investigators suspect that humans hunted hares regularly, possibly tracking the elusive creatures down with the aid of dogs by 11,500 years ago (SN: 2/16/19, p. 13).

 

 

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Jpost.com

A method for identifying salmon remains using mineral markers developed at the University of Haifa sheds light on the Late Stone Age in the Arctic Circle, according to a new study published in the academic journal Scientific Reports.

While archaeological researchers have assumed that salmon would have been crucial to the early diet of the ancient Arctic’s inhabitants, there has been little proof until now.

“The new method we have developed will enable researchers to better understand life in the ancient Arctic and the way in which seamstresses are able to move to permanent communities,” said Prof. Ruth Gross, who led the study, in a statement.

While evidence has been previously found that indicated inhabitants of the ancient Arctic Circle would catch fish, and particularly salmon, few fish bones were ever discovered in archaeological research, according to Dr. Don Butler of the Department of Marine Civilizations at the Leon Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa. Butler is a postdoctoral researcher who co-authored the study.

Gross added that the importance of salmon today in Scandinavia, together with the paucity of bones, has made the subject significant for local researchers and archaeologists.

Gross and Butler worked with Dr. Sato Koivisto of the University of Helsinki, who provided the Israeli team with the Mid-Holocene period salmon bones found in excavations in Finland over the years. The mineral marker that Gross and Butler discovered matched that of the fish.

The researchers then turned to one of the oldest settlements on the Iijoki River in northern Finland, where they sampled ash from a fire found in a 5,600-year-old cabin. Laboratory results showed that the salmon’s signature mineral marker could be found within the ash.

This, combined with the team’s sieving efforts and mineralogical analyses of these sediments, along with zooarchaeological identification of recovered bone fragments, confirmed that salmon was part of the diet of people living in the village. The findings provided new evidence for early estuary or riverine fisheries in northern Finland’s Lapland region.

The method developed at the University of Haifa will enable archaeologists in the future who are working in the ancient Arctic periods to collect evidence of salmon consumption, and perhaps other relationships salmon may have had with Arctic river ecosystems.

 

 

 

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A study led by SFU archaeology professor Dana Lepofsky and Hakai Institute researcher Nicole Smith reveals that clam gardens, ancient Indigenous food security systems located along B.C.’s coast, date back at least 3,500 years — almost 2,000 years older than previously thought. These human-built beach terraces continue to create habitat for clams and other sea creatures to flourish in the area.

Source: Northwest Coast clam gardens nearly 2,000 years older than previously thought — study

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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 nearly edible Huntley & Palmers fruitcake has been discovered in a hut on Antarctica’s Cape Adare. It is thought to have been left behind in 1911 by members of a British expedition.

My aunt used to make fruitcake when I lived with her as a teenager. I wonder what she would think of this and the thought that her fruit cake could out live her.

jlp

Source: Super Fruitcake

The discovery of a 106-year-old fruitcake on Antarctica’s Cape Adare may help redeem the delicacy’s much-maligned reputation. The centenarian cake was found by a team from the Antarctic Heritage Trust in the continent’s oldest building, a hut erected in 1899, and is thought to have been left there in 1911 by members of the Northern Party, part of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition. The tin holding the Huntley & Palmers fruitcake was somewhat rusty, but the cake itself was in fine shape—likely due to the cold, dry conditions. “It felt and looked like a new fruitcake,” says Lizzie Meek, the trust’s program manager. “It was only if you got quite close to it that you could smell that slightly off smell of butter that’s gone wrong.”

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