Prehistoric man ate flatbread 30,000 years ago: study

Oct 19, 2010

Starch grains found on grinding stones suggest that prehistoric man may have consumed a type of bread at least 30,000 years ago in Europe, US researchers said.

The study, published Monday in the , suggested that processing starch grains, possibly them into flour, was a widespread practice across Europe, contrary to popular belief that the Paleolithic man was primarily a meat eater.

Grains recovered from grindstones and pestle grinders at three sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic appeared to come mostly from starchy cattails and ferns, which researchers said would provide a significant source of carbohydrates and energy.

"The wide size range and the different morphologies of the recovered (at two of the sites) suggest that they were used for grinding more than one plant species and possibly for other purposes," they added.

In order to be properly digested and realize its full nutrient value, the flour would have to be cooked after undergoing multi-step processing, including root peeling, drying and grinding into a flour likely usable for making flatbread or cakes.

For their study, researchers analyzed traces of wear and residue on grindstones and other tools by microscope, and conducted experimental reconstruction of how the tools functioned.

Italy's Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria funded the project, which also received support from the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana.

Explore further: Changing dinosaur tracks spurs novel approach

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Corn's roots dig deeper into South America

Mar 24, 2008

Corn has long been known as the primary food crop in prehistoric North and Central America. Now it appears it may have been an important part of the South American diet for much longer than previously thought, according to ...

What the locals ate 10,000 years ago

Aug 23, 2010

BYU archaeologists find a Utah site occupied by humans 11,000 years ago.The researchers documented a variety of dishes the people dined on back then.Grind stones for milling small seeds appeared 10,000 years ...

Exploring the Stone Age pantry

Dec 17, 2009

The consumption of wild cereals among prehistoric hunters and gatherers appears to be far more ancient than previously thought, according to a University of Calgary archaeologist who has found the oldest example ...

Recommended for you

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

16 hours ago

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

16 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Husky
5 / 5 (1) Oct 19, 2010
So even in those days they used to say, that flint & tinder was the best invention since sliced bread

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...