Stones speak and ashes live
August 7, 2021 12:04 PM   Subscribe

An overview of archaeological investigation into pre-Neolithic use of grains: "Well before people domesticated crops, they were grinding grains for hearty stews and other starchy dishes." Lots of different archaeologists, many of them experimental archaeologists, and their recent insights into early diet. Links to all the scholarly articles at the bottom.
posted by clew (8 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

Nice. Scraping off the food to ‘clean’ the vessels is just as silly as scraping off the textile remnants and prints.
posted by janell at 1:02 PM on August 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Archaeology often seems to necessarily include the process of recognizing how jaw-droppingly dumb earlier practitioners of archaeology look with just a little hindsight. I am looking at you E. A. Wallis Budge with the Papyrus of Ani and your scissors. Among so many others.

This article on the other hand just demonstrates that clear headed and consistent research can yield tremendous amounts of information out of what was considered archaeologically useless remains. Of course the number of female archaeologists in this story seems somewhat telling as well.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 3:43 PM on August 7, 2021 [16 favorites]

Archeologists: Hunter gatherer societies from ten thousand years ago weren't very complex or sophisticated.

Gobekli Tepe: Hold my beer.
posted by euphorb at 3:52 PM on August 7, 2021 [17 favorites]

Oh no! Paleo is a bullshit grift!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:50 PM on August 7, 2021 [19 favorites]

When I was nine or ten, I was at an Iron Age reenactment site where we were sent out to forage for wild grains. I know the Iron Age was several thousands of years after the cultures described in the article, but it gave me a sense that wild grains were a part of prehistoric diets (and I think the science behind that part of the reenactment was findings of wild grains in the stomachs of bog-bodies). It didn't take us long to find enough grains to turn into some rather sad cookies for everyone in our class, so though it was of course pretty work intensive compared to taking a package of cereal out of the kitchen cupboard, it wasn't stressfull or hard work. We also made a vegetable stew (which I don't remember anything about, neither the harvesting, cooking or taste), and had wild boar, grilled over the fire (which led to a lifelong appreciation of wild boar).
posted by mumimor at 4:59 AM on August 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

Great article and overview of the archaeology advances! Making your own stone hand tools and then using them to figure out how grinding specific types of grains changes the surface of the stone tool. Very very cool. I also enjoyed the article's end.
Her experiments are shifting the way archaeologists understand the site — and the period when it was built. Their initial interpretations made the site sound a bit like a US college fraternity house: lots of male hunters on a hilltop, washing down barbecued antelope with vats of lukewarm beer at occasional celebrations. “Nobody really thought of the possibility of plant consumption” on a large scale, Dietrich says.

In a study late last year12, Dietrich argues the ‘barbecue and beer’ interpretation is way off. The sheer number of grain-processing tools at Göbekli Tepe suggest that even before farming took hold, cereals were a daily staple, not just part of an occasional fermented treat.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:27 AM on August 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

This topic is like one of the only things I like to think about. Doing this kind of work would be my heaven.
posted by bleep at 7:09 PM on August 8, 2021

Oh no! Paleo is a bullshit grift!

I vividly remember a friend raised in Greece telling me how much his grandparends laughed at the idea of the Mediterranean Diet. "They said, the real Mediterranean Diet is very simple. You live in the Mediterranean, and eat whatever you can get your hands on."
posted by mhoye at 6:26 PM on August 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older Heavy Metal on (Really) Heavy Metal   |   We just need more hills Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments