АвторТема: Cooking in caves: Palaeolithic carbonised plant food remains from Franchthi and  (Прочитано 484 раз)

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Cooking in caves: Palaeolithic carbonised plant food remains from Franchthi and Shanidar
Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2022
Ceren Kabukcu, Hunt, Evan Hill, Emma Pomeroy, Tim Reynolds, Graeme Barker and Eleni Asouti


Research on Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer diet has focused on the consumption of animals. Evidence for the use of plant foods is comparatively limited but is rapidly expanding. The authors present an analysis of carbonised macro-remains of processed plants from Franchthi Cave in the Aegean Basin and Shanidar Cave in the north-west Zagros Mountains. Microscopic examination of the charred food remains reveals the use of pounded pulses as a common ingredient in cooked plant foods. The results are discussed in the context of the regional archaeobotanical literature, leading the authors to argue that plants with bitter and astringent tastes were key ingredients of Palaeolithic cuisines in South-west Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The evidence presented here supports previous hypotheses regarding the diversity and complexity of Palaeolithic plant use. It provides direct evidence for previously undocumented food preparation practices and brings into focus the diversity of specialised cooking practices developed by Middle and Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers, which involved multiple preparation steps and different plant components (Jones, Hublin and Richards 2009). Our results reinforce current understanding that the use of plants in the Palaeolithic regularly relied on starch-rich tubers and grasses (Henry, Brooks and Piperno 2011; Hardy, Bocherens, Miller and Copeland 2022) and further demonstrate that the labour-intensive processing of a broad spectrum of plant foods, including bitter, astringent and potentially toxic plants for human consumption, was an integral part of hunter-gatherer resource management strategies. The use of plant food preparation techniques was prevalent across the Eastern Mediterranean and South-west Asia from as early as the Middle Palaeolithic and appears to be independent of fluctuations in forage and prey ceilings due to climatic conditions (Hardy 2018; Power and Williams 2018). Crucially, our results demonstrate that food choices and preparation practices traditionally associated with the intensification of plant resource use that is linked to climatic amelioration at the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary and the origin of farming (Smith and Zeder 2013) clearly have a deep history that precedes the earliest evidence for plant cultivation by several tens of thousands of years.


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