You must log in or register to comment.

marketrent OP t1_ixlo175 wrote

Ceren Kabukcu, 23 November 2022.

>My team’s analysis of the oldest charred food remains ever found show that jazzing up your dinner is a human habit dating back at least 70,000 years.

>Imagine ancient people sharing a meal. You would be forgiven for picturing people tearing into raw ingredients or maybe roasting meat over a fire as that is the stereotype.

>But our new study showed both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens had complex diets involving several steps of preparation, and took effort with seasoning and using plants with bitter and sharp flavours.

>This degree of culinary complexity has never been documented before for Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers.


>We examined food remains from two late Paleolithic sites, which cover a span of nearly 60,000 years, to look at the diets of early hunter gatherers. Our evidence is based on fragments of prepared plant foods (think burnt pieces of bread, patties and porridge lumps) found in two caves.

>At both sites, we often found ground or pounded pulse seeds such as bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia), grass pea (Lathyrus spp) and wild pea (Pisum spp).

>The people who lived in these caves added the seeds to a mixture that was heated up with water during grinding, pounding or mashing of soaked seeds.

Antiquity, DOI 10.15184/aqy.2022.143


DiceCubed1460 t1_ixm8nj9 wrote


British food is blander than prehistoric humans


DarkestDusk t1_ixmjf9h wrote

To some of it, certainly. Though the UK does have some amazing options available if you know where to look!


Bluffz2 t1_ixmk1ze wrote

Yes, if you know where to look you can find some great foreign food!


EmotionalAccounting t1_ixmpccm wrote

“London has the top ten restaurants in the world”

“And what kind of food do they make?”



Channel250 t1_ixo87ec wrote

I don't normally care for John Taffer, but that line always makes me laugh.


seenameangreenbean t1_ixmknm9 wrote

Fish and chips with vinegar is good, other than that…..


T_ja t1_ixmvajb wrote

I mean aren’t cottage and chicken pot pies either English or Irish? It falls under the beige food trope but it isn’t bland.


seenameangreenbean t1_ixmvp04 wrote

Shepard’s pie too now that I think about it. And Steak and Kidney pie. The British are good at pies.


T_ja t1_ixmwnda wrote

And various cheeses as well.


OnlyNeverAlwaysSure t1_ixn2hjc wrote

Wait, what cheese is British?


T_ja t1_ixn3fcd wrote

Various cheddars if I’m not mistaken


ImReverse_Giraffe t1_ixn4bku wrote

And that sauce no one can pronounce.


Moneia t1_ixnd62g wrote

Worcestershire, pronounced Woost'r-sheer.

And it was based on an Asian fish sauce, it starts with fermented anchovies


SeeTreeMe t1_ixomgkw wrote

Chicken pot pies took some inspiration from English culinary styles, but it was made in the US (Dutch Pennsylvania).


hablandochilango t1_ixozq74 wrote

Beef Wellington is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had anywhere


melmoth_to_a_flame t1_ixn56nh wrote

Didn't all those shops get replaced by curry shops? Not that I am complaining, just haven't visited for a long while.


DemSocCorvid t1_ixn4x7r wrote

Yeah, all the Indian restaurants. Butter chicken is a classic British dish.


floin t1_ixmkp3j wrote

>>if you know where to look!

Meaning the local curry take-away?


QueenRooibos t1_ixogiyp wrote

How do we know it was for seasoning? Couldn't the plants/herbs/minerals etc. have been used for medicinal purposes such as preventing/lessening food poisoning or indigestion? Bitter herbs are especially useful for this according to old herbalist handbooks.


Raichu7 t1_ixpvy57 wrote

The assumption that people 70,000 years ago would only eat a single type of food at a meal seems rather crazy to me. Where were they getting enough of it to feed the whole tribe? The idea that they gathered whatever meat and plants they could find and then cooked them all together makes a lot more sense.


PelosiGalore t1_ixls37o wrote

As a foodie and amateur historian, I find this fascinating!! I enjoy making dishes that go back….oldest one was a Babylonian stew going back 4,000 years. Thank you for the post!!!


2meterrichard t1_ixltout wrote

You'd dig Tasting History on YouTube. Dude finds old ass recipes and talks about the history involved. Then makes it himself. Or at least the closest facsimile he can of it.


FaeryLynne t1_ixlvckd wrote

I'm gonna guess you've seen Ancient Recipes with Sohla on YouTube?


PelosiGalore t1_ixm0n7c wrote

Haven’t seen that one. I do watch “Early American” and “Townsends.” Thank you for the tip!!


SmileAndLaughrica t1_ixme0k3 wrote

You’d like English Heritage’s The Victorian Way YouTube videos! They even did a crossover episode with Townsend.


Paltenburg t1_ixlzps3 wrote

Isn't the big reveal that they already ate bread?


koebelin t1_ixm2s6n wrote

I too am very surprised. They mashed up seeds and made a bread? I guess when your only tech is fire you eventually cook everything and find out what works.


TheGreat_War_Machine t1_ixm6b2l wrote

Bread is such a basic item that you'd be surprised by how little you actually need to make it. Sure, you may not get a product that's like what you'd find on the store shelf, but it offers the same benefits for paleolithic peoples.


ensalys t1_ixmf01h wrote

Yeah, crush up the seeds of certain kinds of grasses, mix it well with some water, add some heat, and you have the simplest kind of bread. Of course, it won't be a nice fluffy (you'll need fungi farts for that) bread with a crispy crust, but it's bread.


madarbrab t1_ixmjoic wrote

Just leave the mash out for a few days, it'll pick up some wild yeast


Bladelink t1_ixn3dah wrote

It probably wouldn't take long to go from some yeasty bread to a sourdough, where you realize you can just keep using the same dough.


rich1051414 t1_ixmh0yt wrote

Grass is the most successful plant on the planet. Grass has seeds. Those seeds can be crushed and mixed with water and cooked for cheap and easy food.


jungles_fury t1_ixos445 wrote

I thought that had already been established? That and traces of starchy vegetables have been found at multiple sites


Paltenburg t1_ixpmc7v wrote

Maybe I was confused with the oldest forms of cultivated grain.


dumnezero t1_iy03uy2 wrote

Domestication of grains required existing use and knowledge of grains. You can't assume that there were government funded research projects on plant breeding to direct a long-term plan for making grains bigger and better.


jennej1289 t1_ixm4wfn wrote

I kind of feel like well naturally they did. They were gatherers. They probably found a way to smoke and preserve food to some degree as well. They were the Earth’s first survivalist. The ones who could not figure it out died.


TotalWarspammer t1_ixm7cnh wrote

In the end the survivalist Neanderthals also died. :(


T_ja t1_ixmwacy wrote

I’ve seen theories that it’s less of a died out and more like they bred themselves out of existing by interloping with modern humans.


CallFromMargin t1_ixq7c3k wrote

I mean yeah, their DNA is in all human population, except for sub-saharan Africa. There definitely was interbreeding. Devisovians are another interesting sub-species, and we have found remains of individual with neanderthal and devisovian parents.


kocf1945 t1_ixmjblt wrote

Now I’m curious about this. I don’t think we know what happened but I need to go look up some well reasoned hypothesis as to why they went extinct


TotalWarspammer t1_ixmjvy0 wrote

I read that in the end humans as we know them now were just more resourceful and more competitive and Neanderthal numbers slowly dwindled to unsustainable pockets of populations... although of course they did mate with us and pass on some DNA!


surle t1_ixmnabx wrote

As far as I understand (not an expert) the "out competed by homo sapiens" theory is just the most likely logical explanation everyone goes along with for the convenience of having a sensible premise and is not something that has been strongly supported with evidence. It's quite possible some fascinating discovery just around the corner of another site like this one could provide the solid bit of evidence needed to properly strengthen that theory, or turn it on its head. All the more reason to support organisations that fund such research, and probably another good reason to oppose the idea of dropping a lot of bombs everywhere.


TotalWarspammer t1_ixmv111 wrote

Of course it's not "just convenience" that scientists think that. What else would you think would cause the species to go completely extinct? There is no evidence that they was a disease specific to Neanderthals or that they were hunted by other men. The evidence suggests the dwindled gradually into smaller groups and then finally faded away. They were not as adaptable or as resourceful as we were.


Entity-2019 t1_ixmwk79 wrote

Given our known history, I am leaning toward systematic continental genocide as a probable explanation. Maybe the Neanderthals "worshiped the wrong god", or even worse, "worshipped the same god, the wrong way".


CallFromMargin t1_ixq8b5t wrote

Yeah, no. For starters, both human and neanderthal population dropped significantly at around 70 000ish years ago, probably due to some kind of cataclysmic event (a supervulcano eruption was long suspected but it might not have been the cause). Human population recovered, neanderthal population didn't.

But even if it did, would you be able to tell neanderthal apart from modern humans?

EDIT: also the last known neanderthal population seem to have died out during time of periodic climate change that would have fucked with their food supply.


frickin-bats- t1_ixol64l wrote

Neanderthals were adapted to the cold and for hunting big game, they thrived during the last ice age. As the climate warmed and a lot of big game died out, their physical traits and way of life weren’t as advantageous/sustainable, and for whatever reason they were unable to adapt to keep up with the environmental changes. Competition with early modern humans probably didn’t help, and as some other people mentioned they interbred with early modern humans, so they may have just been gradually absorbed into the human population


mouse_8b t1_ixnexgv wrote

Probably not because they couldn't feed themselves


jungles_fury t1_ixoscpr wrote

Eventually but they survived for hundreds of thousands of years, not too shabby


one-more-thingy t1_ixlw0ye wrote

Kinda makes sense. You don't take up a whole planet though ice ages and worse without being a funking master of your environment.

It's later then we think.


HighOnGoofballs t1_ixlt0q5 wrote

I’m not that surprised they did this 70,000 years ago but I’d be curious as to how it changed over time since people first started cooking over fire ~800,000 years ago


IamreallynotaNPC t1_ixlv2wv wrote

For reference.

I would also like to know if they used something on the fish.


nikstick22 t1_ixmm28f wrote

So, this study adds to the existing body of work by noting that the bitter alkaloids in the shells of the cooked seeds were soaked and/or boiled rather than deshelled completely. The authors suggest that deshelling would be easier and more efficient at removing the bitter and astringent compounds and conclude that this indicates that the ancient people preparing this food intentionally used the less effective method in order to retain the bitter flavor.

The title is not referring to any additional seasoning in this body of work, only that the bitter flavors in the food fragments studied were not completely removed.


DMAN591 t1_ixngzk0 wrote

I mean, it could be someone that just sucked at cooking and/or preparing food. It's not like they could search up recipes on Google back then.


QueenRooibos t1_ixogvym wrote

Bitters are good for digestion according to centuries of traditional herbal medicine --- now we can just update that knowledge to "since paleolithic times".


dchallenge t1_ixlw5h1 wrote

In related news; Sriracha, found to be a 75,000 year old company.


PelosiGalore t1_ixm12b2 wrote

Always found it amazing that there are a finite number of spices, fruits and vegetables in the world. By just varying proportions, you can make the same ingredients taste completely different. I love that!


yoortyyo t1_ixmd7mx wrote

Many herbs have antibiotic & anti microbial properties. We are finding even animals eat certain plants that offer medicinal value. I’m saying why can’t we have been eating & utilizing herbs before cooking happend?


nygdan t1_ixmcvn0 wrote

This is also how you get over the millenia long "usefulness" gap between wild food and fully domesticated crops. People sometimes ask "how was agriculture useful in the stages where the food wasn't nutritious enough". They grew it for spices and seasoning.


Liar_tuck t1_ixnn8n5 wrote

And possibly beer.


nygdan t1_ixorkpx wrote

Beer is definitely part of it, the Natufian cultures apparently were invested in beer production.


Liar_tuck t1_ixos5aa wrote

Saw a documentary about that years ago. Wish I could remember what it was called. Its was really interesting.


TheDennisQuaid t1_ixmfl1s wrote

Tens of thousands of years old and still more flavor than British food.


TheGreat_War_Machine t1_ixm6tyn wrote

I noticed in the article that much of the evidence of culinary practice was found in southwest Asia. Could it be reasonably presumed, based on human migrations, that paleolithic peoples who found their way to the Americas also utilized seasoning?


carlitospig t1_ixm9xep wrote

I’d be curious if they did it for flavor or if they did it for its medicinal properties. Back then they were likely already connecting the dots between herbs and health.


TheGreat_War_Machine t1_ixmpekh wrote

At least in the context of this article, they said seasoning was likely for flavor purposes given that the seeds the paleolithics used still had their husks, which gave the end product a bitter taste.


Papancasudani t1_ixn1565 wrote

Seems like the premise for a Far Side cartoon:

Hey Thag. What go good with mammoth flank?


MagicSPA t1_ixmyi00 wrote

I'd love to see that scenario captured in a Gary Larson cartoon.

"Ugg! What doing with tarragon?! It clearly rosemary that go with unidentified rodent!"


mrsbundleby t1_ixoi04o wrote

Hunter gatherers were better cooks than my mother in law


pt101389 t1_ixnawl8 wrote

They are obviously not talking about the white hunters. (I'm white it's a harmless stereotype joke)


jungl3j1m t1_ixng8r3 wrote

That long ago h. Sapiens were all black.


AutoModerator t1_ixlngyi wrote

Welcome to r/science! This is a heavily moderated subreddit in order to keep the discussion on science. However, we recognize that many people want to discuss how they feel the research relates to their own personal lives, so to give people a space to do that, personal anecdotes are allowed as responses to this comment. Any anecdotal comments elsewhere in the discussion will be removed and our normal comment rules apply to all other comments.

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.


Flip86 t1_ixlsowx wrote

Gotta make it taste good.


linkdude212 t1_ixmako4 wrote

I wonder how they heated water without pots.


surle t1_ixmofvp wrote

Concave stone, hard wood, bamboo/coconut, etc.


damon459 t1_ixnddsz wrote

Animal skins were commonly used as pots for boiling and simmering liquids.


jimsmoments89 t1_ixmom6e wrote

Probably rocks with odd shapes that are good enough to hold water maybe


LivermoreP1 t1_ixmhtqn wrote

Salt Bae dates back 70,000 years


elmo_knows t1_ixmmsa3 wrote

The real question is if it tastes good


SilverJaw47 t1_ixmy47b wrote

My god. Paleo humans had more refined pallets than British people.


standardtrickyness1 t1_ixn5b4e wrote

Next you'll be telling me primitive man first ignited mastodon flatulence to heat his cave.


vferrero14 t1_ixnmbdl wrote

Probably more spices then my Caucasian mother uses on chicken


Fuzzy_Logic_4_Life t1_ixnvhw6 wrote

My family’s recipe of secret herbs and spices are 70,000 years old.

Can’t top that can you! Oh wait, you can? Oh, we’re related awesome!


ILovePornAndDrugs t1_ixofqqc wrote

damn wonder what palaeolithic cooking tasted like when thanksgiving rolled round


KeybladeMasterAqua t1_ixowbjg wrote

They weren’t total savages. They probably knew what they liked to eat.


Doctor_Box t1_ixowpx6 wrote

The paleo anti plant crowd is in shambles.


bluejays-beak1281 t1_ixmzu4e wrote

Well of course, nobody but the modern English like unseasoned food.


Biff_Malibu_69 t1_ixlxueo wrote

Hmmm. So they were Cultured Swine?