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The limestone sinkers, each weighing between 14 to 52 grammes, would have been tied to the bottom of nets and used to catch small fish such as minnows in shallow streams

 

Original Article:

Phys.org

 

Archaeologists excavating a cave in South Korea have found evidence that suggests human beings were using sophisticated techniques to catch fish as far back as 29,000 years ago, much earlier than experts previously thought.

Carbon dating procedures on the fourteen limestone sinkers, unearthed in the eastern county of Jeongseon in June, have pushed back “the history of fishing by nets by some 19,000 years”, Yonsei University Museum director Han Chang-gyun told AFP.

Previously, researchers had excavated sinkers—stones used to weigh down nets for catching fish—in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture and South Korea’s Cheongju city, but those discoveries were all dated back to the Neolithic Era and believed to be around 10,000 years old, Han said.

“This discovery suggests humans in the Upper Paleolithic era were actively catching fish for their diet”, he added.

The limestone sinkers, each weighing between 14 to 52 grammes and with a diameter of 37 to 56 millimetres, had grooves carved into them so they could be tied to the bottom of nets and used to catch small fish such as minnows in shallow streams, he said.

Researchers also found fossilized bones belonging to fish and other animals, as well as stone tools and flakes, inside the Maedun cave, he said.

Prior to the South Korean find, the oldest fishing implements were believed to be fishing hooks, made from the shells of sea snails, that were found on a southern Japanese island and said to date back some 23,000 years.

pastedGraphic.png Explore further: Ancient fish hooks found on Okinawa suggest earlier maritime migration than thought

 

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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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health care system? Politicians and others continue to debate this issue. They always conclude that more money is the answer. But this approach is doomed to failure. How can it work when it’s taken 40,000 years for humans to get into such horrible shape?

How did it happen? And is there a solution?

Dr. Barry Bogin is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. He says we all envision our Paleolithic ancestors as being short, bent-over people with small brains, but actually, they were a tad taller and with brains as large as ours. And if alive today, they would not require hospitalization for so much degenerative disease.

Admittedly, most stone-age people did not live as long as today’s North Americans. Large numbers died while hunting animals or from infection due to lack of antibiotics. Others suffered terrible deaths from childbirth.

But the ones that escaped these problems did not face cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, or obesity—all of today’s big killers—later in life.

What protected them? Ironically, it was the things they lacked that saved them. Three meals a day were never guaranteed, so they had to continually exert themselves to find food.

Dr. Bogin reports that today most people expend only 400 calories to complete the day’s chores. Cars, television sets, and computers don’t burn up calories.

Stone-age people lost 1,600 calories by hunting and gathering food. This, along with the absence of fast-food outlets and supermarkets, kept them thin, a major factor in preventing degenerative disease.

Nutritional anthropologists can pinpoint what stone-age people ate—and how their nutrition safeguarded them from certain diseases—by analyzing their bones and fossilized human waste.

Sugar and Salt

Possibly, their major protection was the lack of sugar. The only source of pure sugar was honey, which was not easy to get and only available in certain areas a few months of the year.

Today, we consume 20 teaspoons of sugar daily, which translates into 146,000 calories a year and 42 pounds of body fat if it’s not burned up by exercise.

What’s beyond belief is that Americans now eat more refined sugar in a single day than stone-age people ate in a lifetime! This is one reason why stone-age people were free of cavities.

Stone-age people also lacked excessive sodium. They consumed about 1,000 milligrams of sodium daily. Today, we use from 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams every day, mostly from supermarket foods. This is one reason why hypertension is a leading cause of death.

Fiber vs. Saturated Fat

Paleolithic men had phenomenal good luck. They consumed up to 150 grams of fiber daily due to a diet rich in plant food. This triggered large soft stools and prevented constipation, diverticulitis, and possibly colon cancer. North Americans consume a mere 15 grams of fiber daily.

Dr. Bogin says they were also not exposed to saturated fats, the type linked to coronary disease. It’s estimated that the American public devours 200 hamburgers every second.

Paleolithic people didn’t eat significant amounts of saturated fat even in areas where game was abundant. The bison, which roamed the prairies, were thin, and what fat they contained was largely unsaturated fat. In fact, Dr. Bogin claims some of their fat consisted of omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish.

Nor could thirsty stone-age people run to the corner store for a 10-ounce can of soda loaded with 8 teaspoons of sugar. Neither had they learned to ferment grains and grapes. Without alcohol, they escaped some cancers. All they had was calorie-free water, no doubt cleaner than today’s drinking water.

Paleolithic people also escaped osteoporosis. This, in spite of the fact that cows and goats were not herded for dairy products. But their plant foods were so high in calcium that they averaged 1,900 milligrams of calcium a day.

We can learn from our ancient ancestors by eating whole-wheat bread and bran cereals, adding more fruit and vegetables to our diet, drinking milk, and above all, saying no to drinks laden with sugar. And if we rise out of our chairs more often, maybe then we could control the escalating costs in health care.

By Gifford-Jones, M.D., He is a medical journalist based in Toronto. His website is DocGiff.com. He may be contacted at Info@docgiff.com.

*Illustration of a man from the Stone Age via Shutterstock

theepochtimes

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Mitochondrial DNA-based chart of large human m...

Mitochondrial DNA-based chart of large human migrations (Numbers are millennia before present.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topic: Ancient Genetics

It began with hunter-gatherers, not herders and farmers, says this genetic study.

It seems there is no end these days to what genetics might be telling us about our past. To add to the profusion of new findings are the conclusions of another study that suggest an early human population boom around 60,000 – 80,000 years ago, marking perhaps the first great population expansion of human history, or pre-history, as the case would be.

The prevailing theory is that, as humans transitioned to domesticating plants and animals around 10,000 years ago, they developed a more sedentary lifestyle, leading to settlements, the development of new agricultural techniques, and relatively rapid population expansion from 4-6 million people to 60-70 million by 4,000 B.C.

But hold on, say the authors of a recently completed genetic study. Carla Aimé and her colleagues at Laboratoire Eco-Anthropologie et Ethnobiologie, University of Paris, conducted a study using 20 different genomic regions and mitochondrial DNA of individuals from 66 African and Eurasian populations, and compared the genetic results with archaeological findings. They concluded that the first big expansion of human populations may be much older than the one associated with the emergence of farming and herding, and that it could date as far back as Paleolithic times, or 60,000-80,000 years ago. The humans who lived during this time period were hunter-gatherers. The authors hypothesize that the early population expansion could be associated with the emergence of new, more sophisticated hunting technologies, as evidenced in some archaeolocal findings. Moreover, they state, environmental changes could possibly have played a role.

The researchers also showed that populations who adopted the farming lifestyle during the Neolithic Period (10,200 – 3,000 B.C.) had experienced the most robust Paleolithic expansions prior to the transition to agriculture.  “Human populations could have started to increase in Paleolithic times, and strong Paleolithic expansions in some populations may have ultimately favored their shift toward agriculture during the Neolithic,” said Aimé.

The details of the study have been published in the scientific journal, Molecular Biology and Evolution, by Oxford University Press.

Original article:

popular archaeology

Tue, Sep 24, 2013

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Topic: Paleo Diet

We are not biologically identical to our Paleolithic predecessors, nor do we have access to the foods they ate. And deducing dietary guidelines from modern foraging societies is difficult because they vary so much by geography, season and opportunity

Meet Grok. According to his online profile, he is a tall, lean, ripped and agile 30-year-old. By every measure, Grok is in superb health: low blood pressure; no inflammation; ideal levels of insulin, glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides. He and his family eat really healthy, too. They gather wild seeds, grasses, and nuts; seasonal vegetables; roots and berries. They hunt and fish their own meat. Between foraging, building sturdy shelters from natural materials, collecting firewood and fending off dangerous predators far larger than himself, Grok’s life is strenuous, perilous and physically demanding. Yet, somehow, he is a stress-free dude who always manages to get enough sleep and finds the time to enjoy moments of tranquility beside gurgling creeks. He is perfectly suited to his environment in every way. He is totally Zen.

Ostensibly, Grok is “a rather typical hunter–gatherer” living before the dawn of agriculture—an “official primal prototype.” He is the poster-persona for fitness author and blogger Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint”—a set of guidelines that “allows you to control how your genes express themselves in order to build the strongest, leanest, healthiest body possible, taking clues from evolutionary biology (that’s the primal part).” These guidelines incorporate many principles of what is more commonly known as the Paleolithic, or caveman, diet, which started to whet people’s appetites as early as the 1960s and is available in many different flavors today.

Proponents of the Paleo diet follow a nutritional plan based on the eating habits of our ancestors in the Paleolithic period, between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago. Before agriculture and industry, humans presumably lived as hunter–gatherers: picking berry after berry off of bushes; digging up tumescent tubers; chasing mammals to the point of exhaustion; scavenging meat, fat and organs from animals that larger predators had killed; and eventually learning to fish with lines and hooks and hunt with spears, nets, bows and arrows.

Most Paleo dieters of today do none of this, with the exception of occasional hunting trips or a little urban foraging. Instead, their diet is largely defined by what they do not do: most do not eat dairy or processed grains of any kind, because humans did not invent such foods until after the Paleolithic; peanuts, lentils, beans, peas and other legumes are off the menu, but nuts are okay; meat is consumed in large quantities, often cooked in animal fat of some kind; Paleo dieters sometimes eat fruit and often devour vegetables; and processed sugars are prohibited, but a little honey now and then is fine.

Almost equal numbers of advocates and critics seem to have gathered at the Paleo diet dinner table and both tribes have a few particularly vociferous members. Critiques of the Paleo diet range from the mild—Eh, it’s certainly not the worst way to eat—to the acerbic: It is nonsensical and sometimes dangerously restrictive. Most recently, in her book Paleofantasy, evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk of the University of California, Riverside, debunks what she identifies as myths central to the Paleo diet and the larger Paleo lifestyle movement.

Most nutritionists consent that the Paleo diet gets at least one thing right—cutting down on processed foods that have been highly modified from their raw state through various methods of preservation. Examples include white bread and other refined flour products, artificial cheese, certain cold cuts and packaged meats, potato chips, and sugary cereals. Such processed foods often offer less protein, fiber and iron than their unprocessed equivalents, and some are packed with sodium and preservatives that may increase the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

But the Paleo diet bans more than just highly processed junk foods—in its most traditional form, it prohibits any kind of food unavailable to stone age hunter–gatherers, including dairy rich in calcium, grains replete with fiber, and vitamins and legumes packed with protein. The rationale for such constraint—in fact the entire premise of the Paleo diet—is, at best, only half correct. Because the human body adapted to life in the stone age, Paleo dieters argue—and because our genetics and anatomy have changed very little since then, they say—we should emulate the diets of our Paleo predecessors as closely as possible in order to be healthy. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other “modern” diseases, the reasoning goes, result primarily from the incompatibility of our stone age anatomy with our contemporary way of eating.

Diet has been an important part of our evolution—as it is for every species—and we have inherited many adaptations from our Paleo predecessors. Understanding how we evolved could, in principle, help us make smarter dietary choices today. But the logic behind the Paleo diet fails in several ways: by making apotheosis of one particular slice of our evolutionary history; by insisting that we are biologically identical to stone age humans; and by denying the benefits of some of our more modern methods of eating.

“‘Paleofantasies’ call to mind a time when everything about us—body, mind, and behavior—was in sync with the environment…but no such time existed,” Zuk wrote in her book. “We and every other living thing have always lurched along in evolutionary time, with the inevitable trade-offs that are a hallmark of life.”

On his website, Sisson writes that “while the world has changed in innumerable ways in the last 10,000 years (for better and worse), the human genome has changed very little and thus only thrives under similar conditions.” This is simply not true. In fact, this reasoning misconstrues how evolution works. If humans and other organisms could only thrive in circumstances similar to the ones their predecessors lived in, life would not have lasted very long.

Several examples of recent and relatively speedy human evolution underscore that our anatomy and genetics have not been set in stone since the stone age. Within a span of 7,000 years, for instance, people adapted to eating dairy by developing lactose tolerance. Usually, the gene encoding an enzyme named lactase—which breaks down lactose sugars in milk—shuts down after infancy; when dairy became prevalent, many people evolved a mutation that kept the gene turned on throughout life. Likewise, the genetic mutation responsible for blue eyes likely arose between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. And in regions where malaria is common, natural selection has modified people’s immune systems and red blood cells in ways that help them resist the mosquito-borne disease; some of these genetic mutations appeared within the last 10,000 or even 5,000 years. The organisms with which we share our bodies have evolved even faster, particularly the billions of bacteria living in our intestines. Our gut bacteria interact with our food in many ways, helping us break down tough plant fibers, but also competing for calories. We do not have direct evidence of which bacterial species thrived in Paleolithic intestines, but we can be sure that their microbial communities do not exactly match our own.

Even if eating only foods available to hunter–gatherers in the Paleolithic made sense, it would be impossible. As Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich emphasizes in her 2012 TED talk, just about every single species commonly consumed today—whether a fruit, vegetable or animal—is drastically different from its Paleolithic predecessor. In most cases, we have transformed the species we eat through artificial selection: we have bred cows, chickens and goats to provide as much meat, milk and eggs as possible and have sown seeds only from plants with the most desirable traits—with the biggest fruits, plumpest kernels, sweetest flesh and fewest natural toxins. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are all different cultivars of a single species, Brassica oleracea; generation by generation, we reshaped this one plant’s leaves, stems and flowers into wildly different arrangements, the same way we bred Welsh corgis, pugs, dachshunds, Saint Bernards and greyhounds out of a single wolf species. Corn was once a straggly grass known as teosinte and tomatoes were once much smaller berries. And the wild ancestors of bananas were rife with seeds.

The Paleo diet not only misunderstands how our own species, the organisms inside our bodies and the animals and plants we eat have evolved over the last 10,000 years, it also ignores much of the evidence about our ancestors’ health during their—often brief—individual life spans (even if a minority of our Paleo ancestors made it into their 40s or beyond, many children likely died before age 15). In contrast to Grok, neither Paleo hunter–gatherers nor our more recent predecessors were sculpted Adonises immune to all disease. A recent study in The Lancet looked for signs of atherosclerosis—arteries clogged with cholesterol and fats—in more than one hundred ancient mummies from societies of farmers, foragers and hunter–gatherers around the world, including Egypt, Peru, the southwestern U.S and the Aleutian Islands. “A common assumption is that atherosclerosis is predominately lifestyle-related, and that if modern human beings could emulate preindustrial or even preagricultural lifestyles, that atherosclerosis, or least its clinical manifestations, would be avoided,” the researchers wrote. But they found evidence of probable or definite atherosclerosis in 47 of 137 mummies from each of the different geographical regions. And even if heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes were not as common among our predecessors, they still faced numerous threats to their health that modern sanitation and medicine have rendered negligible for people in industrialized nations, such as infestations of parasites and certain lethal bacterial and viral infections.

Some Paleo dieters emphasize that they never believed in one true caveman lifestyle or diet and that—in the fashion of Sisson’s Blueprint—they use our evolutionary past to form guidelines, not scripture. That strategy seems reasonably solid at first, but quickly disintegrates. Even though researchers know enough to make some generalizations about human diets in the Paleolithic with reasonable certainty, the details remain murky. Exactly what proportions of meat and vegetables did different hominid species eat in the Paleolithic? It’s not clear. Just how far back were our ancestors eating grains and dairy? Perhaps far earlier than we initially thought. What we can say for certain is that in the Paleolithic, the human diet varied immensely by geography, season and opportunity. “We now know that humans have evolved not to subsist on a single, Paleolithic diet but to be flexible eaters, an insight that has important implications for the current debate over what people today should eat in order to be healthy,” anthropologist William Leonard of Northwestern University wrote in Scientific American in 2002.
We cannot time travel and join our Paleo ancestors by the campfire as they prepare to eat; likewise, shards of ancient pottery and fossilized teeth can tell us only so much. If we compare the diets of so-called modern hunter-gatherers, however, we see just how difficult it is to find meaningful commonalities and extract useful dietary guidelines from their disparate lives (see infographic). Which hunter–gatherer tribe are we supposed to mimic, exactly? How do we reconcile the Inuit diet—mostly the flesh of sea mammals—with the more varied plant and land animal diet of the Hadza or !Kung? Chucking the many different hunter–gather diets into a blender to come up with some kind of quintessential smoothie is a little ridiculous. “Too often modern health problems are portrayed as the result of eating ‘bad’ foods that are departures from the natural human diet…This is a fundamentally flawed approach to assessing human nutritional needs,” Leonard wrote. “Our species was not designed to subsist on a single, optimal diet. What is remarkable about human beings is the extraordinary variety of what we eat. We have been able to thrive in almost every ecosystem on the Earth, consuming diets ranging from almost all animal foods among populations of the Arctic to primarily tubers and cereal grains among populations in the high Andes.”

Closely examining one group of modern hunter–gatherers—the Hiwi—reveals how much variation exists within the diet of a single small foraging society and deflates the notion that hunter–gatherers have impeccable health. Such examination also makes obvious the immense gap between a genuine community of foragers and Paleo dieters living in modern cities, selectively shopping at farmers’ markets and making sure the dressing on their house salad is gluten, sugar and dairy free.

By latest count, about 800 Hiwi live in palm thatched huts in Colombia and Venezuela. In 1990 Ana Magdalena Hurtado and Kim Hill—now both at Arizona State University in Tempe—published a thorough study (pdf) of the Hiwi diet in the neotropical savannas of the Orinoco River basin in Southwestern Venezuela. Vast grasslands with belts of forest, these savannas receive plenty of rain between May and November. From January through March, however, precipitation is rare: the grasses shrivel, while lakes and lagoons evaporate. Fish trapped in shrinking pools of water are easy targets for caiman, capybaras and turtles. In turn, the desiccating lakes become prime hunting territory for the Hiwi. During the wet season, however, the Hiwi mainly hunt for animals in the forest, using bows and arrows.

The Hiwi gather and hunt a diverse group of plants and animals from the savannas, forests, rivers and swamps. Their main sources of meat are capybara, collared peccary, deer, anteater, armadillo, and feral cattle, numerous species of fish, and at least some turtle species. Less commonly consumed animals include iguanas and savanna lizards, wild rabbits, and many birds. Not exactly the kind of meat Paleo dieters and others in urban areas can easily obtain.

Five roots, both bitter and sweet, are staples in the Hiwi diet, as are palm nuts and palm hearts, several different fruits, a wild legume named Campsiandra comosa, and honey produced by several bee species and sometimes by wasps. A few Hiwi families tend small, scattered and largely unproductive fields of plantains, corn and squash. At neighboring cattle ranches in a town about 30 kilometers away, some Hiwi buy rice, noodles, corn flour and sugar. Anthropologists and tourists have also given the Hiwi similar processed foods as gifts (see illustration at top).

Hill and Hurtado calculated that foods hunted and collected in the wild account for 95 percent of the Hiwi’s total caloric intake; the remaining 5 percent comes from store-bought goods as well as from fruits and squash gathered from the Hiwi’s small fields. They rely more on purchased goods during the peak of the dry season.

The Hiwi are not particularly healthy. Compared to the Ache, a hunter–gatherer tribe in Paraguay, the Hiwi are shorter, thinner, more lethargic and less well nourished. Hiwi men and women of all ages constantly complain of hunger. Many Hiwi are heavily infected with parasitic hookworms, which burrow into the small intestine and feed on blood. And only 50 percent of Hiwi children survive beyond the age of 15.

Drop Grok into the Hiwi’s midst—or indeed among any modern or ancient hunter–gather society—and he would be a complete aberration. Grok cannot teach us how to live or eat; he never existed. Living off the land or restricting oneself to foods available before agriculture and industry does not guarantee good health. The human body is not simply a collection of adaptations to life in the Paleolithic—its legacy is far greater. Each of us is a dynamic assemblage of inherited traits that have been tweaked, transformed, lost and regained since the beginning of life itself. Such changes have not ceased in the past 10,000 years.

Ultimately—regardless of one’s intentions—the Paleo diet is founded more on privilege than on logic. Hunter–gatherers in the Paleolithic hunted and gathered because they had to. Paleo dieters attempt to eat like hunter–gatherers because they want to.

Original article:

scientific american
by Ferris Jabr, June 28, 2013

20130729-111506.jpg
By Jen Christiansen

The Hiwi Diet

What a group of hunter-gatherers in Colombia and Venezuela eat

Palm nuts and heart (Mauritia flexuosa)Brazilian Teal (Amazonetta brasiliensis)Wild root “Yatsiro” (Canna edulis)Red Brocket deer (Mazama americana)Wild root “No’o” (Dioscorea)Wild root “Oyo” (Banisteriopsis)Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)Guava (Psidium guava)Yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis)Wild root “Hewyna” (Calathea allouia)Mata Mata turtle (Chelus fimbriatus)Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)Silver Mylosomma (Mylossoma duriventre)Iguana (Iguana iguana)Iguana (Iguana iguana)Orange (Citrus x sinensis)Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja)Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja)Collared peccary (Pecari tajacu)Wild rabbit (Sylvilagus varynaensis)Piranha (Serrasalmus)Trahira (Hoplias malabaricus)Collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla)Gold Tegu (Tupinambis teguixin)Mangoes (Mangifera)Wild legume “Chiga” (Campsiandra comosa)South American catfish (Pseudoplatystoma)Charichuelo (Garcinia madruno)Yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata)Caiman (Caiman crocodilus)

by Marissa Fessenden

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View of excavation site of Katoati in Thar Desert, India. Courtesy J. Blinkhorn

Topic:Ancient stone tools, and amaranth

The surprise for me in this article is the mention of amaranth, which is a grain I don’t usually associate with India. I did find a reference to its use in India, via Wikipedia:

In Maharashtra state of India, it is called “rājgīrā” (राजगीरा) in the Marathi language. The popped grain is mixed with melted jaggery in proper proportion to make iron and energy rich “laddus,” a popular food provided at the Mid-day Meal Program in municipal schools.

Finds could have implications for dispersal of early modern humans out of Africa into southern Asia.

The subject of how and when the earliest dispersal of modern humans out of Africa into Eurasia occurred has long been in dispute among scholars. A number of recent studies have raised new finds with different interpretations and sometimes conflicting results.

Now, scientists investigating a site in the Thar Desert of northeastern India have uncovered stone artifacts that indicate the presence of humans, possibly modern humans, as much as 95,000 years ago in an area that once was wetter than it is today. Their analysis and conclusions, published June 12, 2013 in the scientific journal, Quaternary Science Reviews, have added new fuel to the debate about the timing and route of dispersal of humans out of Africa into southern Asia, including the even bigger question………What species were they?

The international team of scientists, led by James Blinkhorn, Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Université Bordeaux in France, excavated a 3 meter wide step-trench to a depth of 4.48 meters at the site of Katoati, a site where previous surveys indicated the presence of stone artifacts and the potential for stratified sediments for detailed archaeological investigation and study. Their excavation revealed eight sedimentary strata, most of which were dated using the Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating technique, a methodology for measuring doses from ionizing radiation, most often applied to dating ancient materials in geological sediments. Stone artifact assemblages were recovered from most of the sediment layers, including comparatively large collections from three of the layers, including the two earliest (oldest) layers in age, going back to as much as 95,000 years ago.

“Overall, the lithic (stone) assemblages appear to have been produced following periods of fluvial (water) activity in a predominantly C4 habitat”, report Blinkhorn, et al. This means that humans were living and working in an area, now desert, that featured plants such as sorghum type grasses and amaranth. Moreover, reports Blinkhorn, “the Katoati findings corroborate the archaeological evidence from 16R Dune, indicating the presence of hominin populations in the Thar Desert between 80 and 40 ka”. The site known as “16R Dune”, another archaeological site on the eastern edge of the Thar desert, was excavated years ago but a recent revisiting of the data and application of updated dating techniques revealed a range for artifacts at the site between 80,000 and 40,000 years ago.*

But dating of the oldest layers at Katoati pushed the timeline back even further. “The archaeological findings clearly extend the occurrence of Middle Palaeolithic hominins in South Asia to MIS (Marine Isotope Stage) 5c, or ca 95 ka (95,000 years ago)”, Blinkhorn adds.*

Another significant result of their analysis of the finds showed that the artifacts bore characteristics very similar to those exhibited by artifacts found in Arabia and the Sahara in Africa. The African artifacts have been assigned to the Middle Stone Age (280,000 years ago to about 50-25,000 years ago), a lithic type and time period that has been associated by scholarly consensus with both anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) as well as archaic Homo sapiens, sometimes referred to as Homo helmei.

The findings have also upset the traditional consensus model of the dispersal of early modern humans out of Africa based on identification of the emergence and dispersal of Homo sapiens with a certain type of stone tool industry — namely, what has been described as Upper Paleolithic (or Later Stone Age in Africa) technology, a more sophisticated technology consisting of such stone artifacts as thin, retouched bifacials, blades and bladelets.

“The presence of Middle Palaeolithic technologies in the Thar Desert at ca 60 ka (60,000 years ago) clearly occurs within the timeframe that have been suggested by genetic studies for the arrival of H. sapiens in South Asia,” writes Blinkhorn et al. “This contradicts the hypothesis that modern humans arrived in South Asia using small crescentic forms that are markedly similar to those that define the so-called Howiesons Poort (bladelet type) technology. Comparable technologies, principally based around microblade production, are not observed in South Asia until 40 -30 ka, or after the Last Glacial Maximum in the Thar Desert. Instead, the Katoati evidence is consistent with arguments for the dispersal of H. sapiens populations using Middle Palaeolithic technologies.”*

Original article:
popular archaeology
July 12, 2013

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Topic: Flint tools

The flint workshops, remains of which were found by archaeologists, had been used by Neanderthals. The researchers are waiting for more detailed information on the site dating. The workshop is certainly more than 45 thousand years old.

“Tools were made by a specific canon of Neanderthals living in Central Europe. These items have a cutting edge on both sides, they are bifacial” – said Dr. Wiśniewski.

Tools, including bifaces and asymmetric blades, are made of siliceous rocks, commonly called flint. According to head researcher, Neanderthals made their tools with holders made of antlers, wood or other materials. This is evidenced by the results of the microscopic analysis of similar items discovered in Germany. Among the flint, archaeologists also found fragments of coarse grained crystalline rock used as pestles – support tools in the manufacture of other tools. This is one of few places in Poland, where archaeologists discovered tools of this kind.

“We believe that a thorough analysis of the remains of biface and knife workshop will allow us to better understand the procedures for making these complex tools. We are also going to compare our finds with the ones from Moravia, because we would like to answer the question asked for a long time: how were the Neanderthals living the present territory of Silesia connected with the group from Moravia? Was it the same population or a completely separate community?” – added the scientist.

According to archaeologists, the place the discovery is not accidental. Further south is the Moravian Gate, known migration route of nations from southern European over the millennia. This is one of the Central Europe’s largest corridors intersecting Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains.

“In this territory, we are finding traces of various activities: from hunting and slaughtering migrating wild game, to places of prolonged stay of Neanderthal groups of hunters and gatherers” – said the archaeologist. However, this is the first site so rich in finds from the Paleolithic period found in this area.

Archaeological work on the site began in August 2012 and will continue this summer. One of the first tasks will be to take samples needed for more accurate dating of the site. The analyses will be carried out by thermoluminescence (TL). It is used to determine the age of deposition of particular layers. Also involved in the work in the area of the site is Dr. Janusz Badura, responsible for natural research.

“We also need to learn more about the natural and climatic conditions accompanying the Neanderthals. This is the purpose of the search for sediments containing pollen from the period of interest. Our dream is to discovery skeletal remains of the game of the period” – concluded the researcher.

naukawpolsce.pap.pl

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