The discovery of roots belonging to a tea tree have pushed tea cultivation to possibly 6,000 years ago. It was previously thought that tea was first consumed about 3,000 years ago in China. The recovery of broken ceramics and evidence of manual digging around the roots––found at the site of Ningbo in the Zhejiang province–– suggest that the tea plants were purposefully planted by people.
Plaque from 400,000 year old teeth recovered in Qesem Cave, Israel, has revealed fascinating information about the past. The dental plaque contained charcoal, which is considered evidence for indoor fires, and traces of essential fatty acids and starch suggest plants were also part of the diet. In addition, plant fibers that the investigators believe may be remnants of plants used to clean teeth, were also recovered during the analysis of the ancient teeth.
Neanderthals living 50,000 ago in northern Spain apparently enjoyed flavoring their meats with herbs, namely chamomile and yarrow. While these plants are generally known for their medicinal properties, the authors of this new study, looking at previously studied dental calculus, suggest that they were likely added to flavor their food. Their argument is supported by observations of modern-day wild chimpanzees chewing on bitter herbs, among other things.
Gladiators consumed beans and grains, and supplemented their diet by drinking ash tonics, which provided minerals such as calcium. This study was carried out measuring various stable isotope levels from bones of gladiators dating to the 2nd or 3rd century BC. The bones were excavated from Ephesos in modern-day Turkey; an important Roman city that once had a large population.
Cave dwellers living in Spain about 30,000 years ago consumed snails, according to new research. Often hard to identify consumption of snails in the archaeological record, new evidence supports the notion that ancient people in this region were consuming one species of snail-- Iberus aloneness-- the same species used in modern-day paella.
Moreover, the snails were collected and consumed when they were already adult, therefore, ensuring in a sustainable practice. It is clear that escargot is not a recent invention!
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.
Looking at nitrogen isotopes, researchers are claiming that manure was started being used as agriculture spread to Europe from the Near East. The earliest use of manure is being dated to around 8000 years ago, which is thousands of years earlier than had been previously thought.
When you think of the ancient Egyptian pyramid builders, one does not immediately imagine a comfortable life. At least with regards to their diet, it seems they ate quite well, as suggested by the faunal analysis which indicates that about 4,000 pounds of meat were being slaughtered a day to feed these workers. Also, the data revealed that those who oversaw the workers and the construction, ate mostly beef, which was the most prized meat during that time.
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