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.
For those that enjoy beer, you can now drink a new brew, inspired by a Nordic recipe: Kvasir. This new (yet ancient) recipe was discovered thanks to residue analysis on various pottery sherds, carried out by Dr. Pat McGovern. This new recipe, re-created by Dogfish Head, is an interesting, and probably tasty, mix of berries, fruit wine, and birch syrup.
On that note, happy holidays to everyone! Cheers!
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.
Flasks from modern-day Israel have been tested for residues, and the results suggest that these contained cinnamon. The discovery is even more interesting as it indicates that trade with the Far East was occurring, which is around 3,000 miles away, around 3,000 years ago. Archaeologists believe the dry bark would have been mixed with wine to flavor it, as it is done today.
A limestone pressing platform has revealed chemical evidence for grape pressing to make wine. Combined with other evidence, which includes botanical remains, scholars are more secure that wine was being produced at Lattara around 400 B.C.
Use-wear and starch-grain analysis is showing a new picture of the origins of agriculture in northern China. The results show that various wild plants were processed with these tools, pushing back the exploitation of plants by 12,000 years, placing this region on par with similar activities in the Middle East.
In my last post (and also the first one), I posted a link to Archaeology Magazine's favorite discoveries for 2012. In today's entry, I decided to upload some of my favorite stories, which include discoveries on ancient plants, hominin diets, Bronze Age trading and brewing, royal gardens, and of course, the new finds at the archaeological sites of La Corona and El Perú-Waka’. Enjoy!
-Grape seeds recovered from 1st century A.D. context are being DNA sequenced in order to understand the history of the Chianti vineyards.
-Very exciting find at the site of El Perú-Waka’, where a royal tomb of a queen was uncovered this past season.
-Bronze Age microbrewery uncovered in Cyprus. A kiln along with associated tools, and carbonized seeds give a glimpse into early beer making.
-By 3.5 million years ago, three members of the genus Australopithecus developed a taste for grass and sedges. Read on for a new view into early hominin diets.
-Orchids appear earlier than previously thought in Roman art, and fade as Christianity arrives.
-More evidence that the Vikings visited the New World earlier than Columbus! Click the link for more information on excavations at a site in Canada.
-A piece of cloth, found in Denmark’s richest burial, and made from nettle, suggests long-distance Bronze Age trading.
-One of the many mysteries of Easter Island has been uncovered! Watch this amazing video.
-Timely discovery of the second known reference to the so-called "end date" of the Maya calendar, found at the site of La Corona. And no, the world didn’t end!
-Fossilized pollen has revealed that local and exotic plants blossomed in Ramat Rahel's royal garden.
-Residue analysis from ceramic beakers from Cahokia have found evidence of Black Drink, a highly caffeinated drink known to have been consumed by Native Americans, brewed from the Ilex vomitoria shrub.
Follow the latest discoveries from the world of archaeology, plants, and people.