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Porridge stone age

In the Sahara found pottery with traces of cereal that made ten thousand years ago.

As you know, before the advent of agriculture, humans were hunters and gatherers. Probably the first plant foods that our ancestors ate were berries and fruits. Then they learned how to cook on an open fire. The following culinary human achievement was the invention of cooking.


A fragment of pottery of the stone age from the Sahara . (Photo: Sapienza University of Rome.)

A man collects plants. The rock art. (Photo: The Archaeological Mission in the Sahara. Sapienza University of Rome.)”

When people began to cook food? Obviously, when they have cookware that can withstand high temperature for long time; the first such utensil steel ceramic pots. However, direct evidence of this theory until recently was not. Now they came, and from quite unusual places, from the Sahara. Now she is one of the largest deserts, and was once quite a nice place: Savannah green, with rivers and lakes, where today lies the sand, walked hippos and elephants. Lived in the Sahara and people, hunters and gatherers. Here, in North Africa, was one of the centers of the emergence of ceramics – the first vessels of clay fashioned here about 12 thousand years ago.

Then the climate changed and almost all life left the Sahara. However, dry air and sand of well-preserved organic matter. Examining about a hundred sherds from two sites of the stone age in the Libyan desert, the researchers found traces on them of cooking plant foods is the excess oil and wax. Molecular and isotopic analysis showed that the local inhabitants about 10 thousand years ago, is actively preparing grains, seeds, leaves, and, unusually, the plants growing in the water. Beans could cook the world’s first cereal. These dishes were mild enough to give to their children, and so mother had to take them away from the breast – which in turn enabled the women to have more children. On the same sites found stone grinders, with which it was possible to make flour.

The authors of an article published in the journal Nature Plants, emphasize that the emergence of heat-resistant ceramics has significantly expanded “menu” of stone age people. Boiling was allowed to eat those plants which in their raw form does not cause appetite, or was dangerous. In addition, heat treatment allowed longer to store the food.

On the fragments of pottery also reflected the transition to agriculture: they are traces of milk. However, the cereal came at least four thousand years before the domestication of plants. For a long time it was believed that ceramics is the first synthetic material, that is, the one who created (not processed, namely, created) by a human hand – was invented during the Neolithic revolution, when there was a transition from the appropriating economy, i.e. hunting and gathering to food producing agriculture and animal husbandry. But in recent years it became clear that the first pottery appeared in Europe in the upper Paleolithic era (Hrvatska culture), and in China even earlier, around 20 thousand years ago. That is, the pots ahead of agriculture for thousands of years, and directly are not.

Materials Phys.org and BBC.

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