In a Caveman’s Kitchen

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In a caveman’s kitchen, as reported in Nature News and ScienceNOW, 18 Oct 2010. A group of researchers from Italy, Russia and Czech Republic have examined stone grinding tools from Stone Age archaeological sites in Italy and Eastern Europe, and found starch grains, indicating that early humans were processing plant foods and cooking with grains. The starch grains were from the root of a species of cattail and the grains of a grass called Brachypodium. Whilst not producing flour as we know it today, the ground roots and grains could be used to make flatbreads or thicken soups. The researchers calculated that once ground and cooked, the cattail grains contain nearly as much energy as farmed cereals.

These finds challenge the traditional view of stone age “man the hunter” living on a diet of meat supplemented by unprocessed plant foods, such as fruits and tubers. This “meat-centric” picture has been built up due to durable evidence being available in the form of stone blades and bones bearing marks of butchering. Plant remains don’t last as long as bones, and it was suspected archaeologists probably destroyed the more fragile plant evidence by washing artefacts, so the European research team studied unwashed artefacts. Ofer Bar-Yosef, an archaeologist at Harvard University and Stone age expert, said it was not a shock that humans from 30,000 years ago ground plants, rather than just eating raw greens. He commented: "I bet you that even Neanderthals had much more complex food-preparation techniques when it comes to plants."

Editorial Comment: It is no surprise to us that “stone age” man ground grains and other plant material and ate processed plant based food, when you consider the Biblical history of human diets. In the beginning God told man to eat plants. After the Fall of Man (Genesis 3), God sent Adam and Eve out of their fruitful garden to “till the ground” i.e. grow crops to obtain their food. Therefore the earliest humans were gardeners and farmers. Hunter-gatherers came later. Furthermore man was created as fully intelligent humans, able to make and work with sophisticated tools. After mankind was dispersed at the Tower of Babel, many groups of people had to scratch out a living in new environments, and a lot of knowledge of farming and tool making was lost. However, people remembered that grains and roots were nutritious if ground and cooked, and used whatever plants were available. (Ref. technology, nutrition, diets)

Evidence News 27 Oct 2010

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