70,000 Years Ago, Neanderthals Prepared Elaborate Meals
Analysis of some of the earliest charred food remnants has shown that Neanderthal cooks were surprisingly skilled, combining a variety of foods and employing diverse techniques to prepare meals
According to a recent study published in the journal Antiquity1, prehistoric cooking by Neanderthals and early modern humans was complex, involving several steps, and that the foods used were diverse. These findings were made from plant material discovered at the Shanidar Cave in northern Iraq, which is famous for housing the burial of a Neanderthal surrounded by flowers, and the Franchthi Cave in Greece.
The Neanderthals, lived in Shanidar Cave 70,000 years ago, while early modern people lived there 40,000 years ago. The researchers looked at plant remnants from both periods. The burnt food remains from Franchthi Cave were from 12,000 years ago, during the time that hunter-gatherer Homo sapiens were also living there. The Greek cave had a foodstuff that resembled bread, although it was unclear what it was made of. The earliest direct evidence of plant processing outside of Africa comes from Shanidar Cave, where ancient humans pounded and soaked pulses 70,000 years ago.
Pulses such beans or lentils, the most frequently recognized ingredient, were frequently blended with wild nuts, peas, vetch, a legume with edible seed pods, and grasses, as well as occasionally wild mustard. Pulses, which have a naturally bitter flavor, were soaked, coarsely mashed, or pounded with stones to remove their husk in order to make the plants more palatable.
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