Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hunter Gatherers Ground Grains Long Before Agriculture

From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal this week:1
"European Paleolithic subsistence is assumed to have been largely based on animal protein and fat, whereas evidence for plant consumption is rare. We present evidence of starch grains from various wild plants on the surfaces of grinding tools at the sites of Bilancino II (Italy), Kostenki 16–Uglyanka (Russia), and Pavlov VI (Czech Republic). The samples originate from a variety of geographical and environmental contexts, ranging from northeastern Europe to the central Mediterranean, and dated to the Mid-Upper Paleolithic (Gravettian and Gorodtsovian). The three sites suggest that vegetal food processing, and possibly the production of flour, was a common practice, widespread across Europe from at least ~30,000 y ago. It is likely that high energy content plant foods were available and were used as components of the food economy of these mobile hunter–gatherers."
One of the authors, Laura Long, describing the food product:2
"It's like a flat bread, like a pancake with just water and flour. ... You make a kind of pita and cook it on the hot stone. ... [It was] crispy like a cracker but not very tasty."
This throws the evidence for eating processed grains back about 10,000 years. I don't think Harvard's Richard Wrangham (author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human) would be surprised.

I suppose we are then biologically adapted to eat processed plant starch. My Paleo Vegetarian Diet is right on target!

Here's Mark Bittman's "Easy Whole-Grain Flatbread:"


1 Thirty Thousand-Year-Old Evidence Of Plant Food Processing, PNAS, October 18, 2010
2 Bread Was Around 30,000 Years Ago: Study, Reuters, October 18, 2010


Bix said...

I love at the end when he chows down. I could watch that part over and over again.

Unknown said...

How can i do to see your blog (paleovegetarian)?
Google says me I must be invited...
Thanks from Italy!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so going to make that Bittman flatbread!!