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Discovering the Diet of the Stone Age: What Our Ancestors Really Ate!

Ceren Kabukcu and her team’s groundbreaking article, “Cooking in caves: Palaeolithic carbonised plant food remains from Franchthi and Shanidar,” was published by Cambridge University Press on November 23, 2022. This pioneering work examines carbonized plant remnants from the Aegean Basin’s Franchthi Cave and the Shanidar Cave in the Northwestern Zagros Mountains. The research team brings together experts from universities around the world: Ceren Kabukcu, Chris Hunt, and Eleni Asouti from the University of Liverpool, Evan Hill from Queen’s University Belfast, Emma Pomeroy and Tim Reynolds from the University of Cambridge, and Tim Reynolds from Birkbeck, University of London.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

As highlighted in the article, Paleolithic humans were not only hunters but also gatherers, with legumes and other plant foods being significant components of their diet. It’s interesting to imagine what modern followers of the “paleo” diet might think of these plant-based meals of our Paleolithic ancestors. Perhaps they would have started a “Paleolithic vegan” movement; who knows?

The researchers show that Paleolithic humans used special processing techniques to reduce bitter and astringent tastes in their food. Compared to today’s superfood trend, it’s plausible that Paleolithic humans had discovered their own superfoods.

So, what is a “Superfood”?

Today, the term “superfood” refers to foods thought to have high nutritional values and positive effects on health. These foods are usually rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and are consumed as part of a healthy diet. Examples include kale, chia seeds, goji berries, avocado, quinoa, and green tea. The term “superfood” has become a popular trend in nutrition and health, and the consumption of these foods is often associated with general health and well-being. However, scientific studies on the health effects of superfoods indicate that their health benefits should be evaluated in the context of individual diets and lifestyles.

The findings from Franchthi and Shanidar are key to understanding the diet of the Paleolithic era. Franchthi Cave is located in Southern Greece, while Shanidar is in present-day Iraqi Kurdistan, and both regions have a rich prehistoric human history.

Copyright © 2022, Cambridge University Press

Anatolia serves as an important bridge between these geographic regions. Particularly, significant Paleolithic sites in Anatolia, such as the Karain and Öküzini caves, provide valuable information about human dietary habits and the types of plants used. Even in the Paleolithic era, Anatolia was a centre of biodiversity and cultural interactions.

Franchthi cave, Greece – Copyright © 2024 Archaeology Wiki

The findings in this article offer crucial insights not only for Franchthi and Shanidar but also for Anatolia and a broader geography. The relationships between these geographical areas help us better understand the dietary habits and food preparation techniques of Paleolithic humans.

For those interested in reading this exciting article and exploring these fascinating aspects of the Paleolithic era, you can access it via this link. Discovering the culinary secrets of the past can offer new perspectives on our modern dietary habits. Who knows, perhaps “Paleolithic smoothie” recipes will become popular in the future!

To delve into all the details of this topic, you can explore the related article at the following link: Cooking in caves: Palaeolithic carbonised plant food remains from Franchthi and Shanidar. This will provide an in-depth understanding of the research and findings discussed.

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