Oldest charred food remains reveal earliest evidence of Neanderthals cooking plants | Tech News

Scientists have analyzed the oldest remains of charred food ever found, providing the earliest evidence that Neanderthals used plants for cooking.

ancient hunter gatherer The diet of prehistoric humans was thought to be largely meat-based, but researchers have found that prehistoric humans had a diverse diet in which plants dominated.

The researchers used scanning electron microscopy to analyze nine ancient charred food samples from two sites: Shanidar CaveOne Neanderthal and early modern humans lived about 500 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, and Franchthi Cave in Greece.

An undated photo of the Shanidar Cave landscape released by Liverpool John Moores University. Scientists have discovered what are believed to be the world's oldest remains of flatbread, made by Neanderthals, in the foothills of Iraq. Credit: Chris Hunt/Liverpool John Moores University/PA Wire
A view of the caves of Shanidar, Iraq.Image: Chris Hunt/Liverpool John Moores University

The five food fragments recovered from Shanidar are the “earliest” of their kind ever found in south-west Asia, according to University of Liverpool postdoctoral researcher Ceren Kabukcu, who led the study published in the journal Antiquity. research on.

Carbonized clumps of prepared plant foods included a mixture of different seeds, wild legumes, wild mustard, wild nuts and wild grasses—which likely formed the Neanderthal diet.

“They looked like burnt bread crumbs or pieces, maybe meatloaf, porridge,” Dr Kabuku told Sky News.

The four remains from Franchthi are the earliest found in Europe, she added, from the hunter-gatherer period, around 13,000 to 12,000 years ago.

One of the food deposits was found to be “bread-like”.

cooking skills

The team was also able to identify cooking techniques that Neanderthal and early modern human chefs used to make food taste better.

Beans, the most common ingredient, have a natural bitterness that comes from Stone Age Soothe by soaking, leaching and then mashing or grinding.

Mashing or grinding foods also makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients and allows for more cooking options.

An undated handout photo released by Liverpool John Moores University is of a fireplace found in Shanidar Cave. Scientists have discovered what are believed to be the world's oldest remains of flatbread, made by Neanderthals, in the foothills of Iraq. Credit: Graeme Barker/Cambridge University/PA Wire
Food fragments found in Shanidar Cave.Image: Graeme Barker/University of Cambridge

The bread-like food found at Franchthi Cave was made by grinding seeds into ultrafine flour, according to researchers, suggesting that hunter-gatherers developed specialized cooking methods tens of thousands of years ago during the Middle and Late Paleolithic .

“Our work conclusively demonstrates a long history of plant-based foods involving more than one ingredient and processed through multiple steps of preparation,” said Dr. Kabukcu.

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In modern agriculture, bitter compounds are almost completely eliminated, but neither Neanderthals nor early modern human cooks discovered that removing the entire seed coat preserved some of the bean’s natural bitterness in their meals.

The findings suggest that “strong-flavored, some bitter, some pungent, some tannin-rich plants were important ingredients (or seasonings) in Paleolithic hunter-gatherer cooking,” Dr Kabukcu told Sky News, adding ” There are very old and complex plant-based culinary traditions based on these plant flavors” from very early times.

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