Pottery from a rockshelter in Colorado has yielded traces of salicylic acid, known as natural aspirin. Derived from willow bark, this substance is still used by Native American groups to treat pain. Archaeologists believe that due to the absence of other residues (in particular those of food) on the same ceramics, it is possible that these pots were specially used to prepare and store medicinal preparations.
FIve centuries of diets is a paleoethnobotanists dream! This is what archaeologists discovered while excavating at the Great Kitchen of Durham Cathedral, United Kingdom. Thousands of bones, belonging to fish, birds, and other animals were recovered, as well as pottery sherds. Together, these elements reflect the foods consumed over various centuries.
Baby bottles are not modern-day inventions. Italian archaeologists, working in Taranto (southern Italy), where the Messapian people lived around 1000 BC, discovered a unique terracotta baby bottle in the shape of a pig. This artifact-- found among numerous other artifacts inside a Messapian tomb--also featured terracotta rattles in the belly, which archaeologists believe could have helped put the baby to sleep.
Forty intact vessels were excavated and examined for organic residues. The results are impressive-- wine, sweetened with honey and spiced with a variety of herbs such as myrtle, mint, and juniper-- was stored in this ancient cellar, dating to 3,700 years ago. The cellar seems to have belonged to a Canaanite leader that lived in a palace at the site of Tel Kabri, Israel.
Archaeologists working in southern Mexico, at Chiapa de Corzo, are reporting that residues collected from vessels older than 2000 years, have evidence of chile peppers. Furthermore, this is the earliest example of chile pepper use documented yet. As they also mention, chile peppers are seldom found in archaeobotanical samples from Mexico and the Maya region. These results are exciting and will hopefully open doors for more such studies in the region.
Phytoliths of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) have been recovered from ceramic sherds from sites across Europe and parts of the Near East. The presence of this plant, that is not considered to be nutritional in any form, is argued to have been used to spice food. The ceramic sherds also had evidence of fish and animal residues. This study suggests that early agriculturalists were interested in spicing their food, too.
The art of making a good soup (or alcoholic beverage) has been around for much longer than previously thought
With the discovery of some of the oldest pottery known in the world -- that has evidence that it was placed in fire -- scholars are suggesting that boiling (either for making soups or alcohol) was taking place. Although pots are not necessary for boiling (as discussed in the article), this ceramic evidence pushes back the date for boiling foods by thousands of years.
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