No announcement yet.

When did humans really start eating grains?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #46
    Sorry, but without actual evidence this is just dungeons and dragons talk. If you have evidence, actual evidence, of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago you'll be rich and famous for life.
    If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):


    • #47
      Originally posted by tfarny View Post
      Sorry, but without actual evidence this is just dungeons and dragons talk. If you have evidence, actual evidence, of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago you'll be rich and famous for life.
      Of course. Nobody has evidence. Just myth and legend. Any evidence pro or against is all under water.
      Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
      Current weight: 199
      Goal: 145


      • #48
        We excavate underwater too.

        I'm not sure why I haven't seen this thread before. I am an archaeologist that specializes in Bronze Age Greece, but one of my doctoral exams was on the palaeolithic to neolithic transition, particularly the "neolithic question" -- Why are Neolithic people so much less healthy than palaeolithic people.

        The evidence that I've studied, mostly from Greece/Turkey/the Levant suggested that we did harvest some grains/grasses in season, twice perhaps three times a year for maybe a week or two, BUT ONLY LATE in the palaeolithic period (actually right before we transition to the Mesolithic.) We find the evidence of these grains in campsites, cooked, and they are rare. The overwhelming amount of food found are small and large animals (we find their bones), fish, every kind of leafy green imaginable, small amounts of nuts, fruit (from pits) and berries. My research for my exam pointed the the idea that we ate everything we could find and cook, in season, often gorging on certain foods for a short period of time and then moving on. Caves were often seasonal, and we could see in the archaeological record that a cave was used primarily in, say, spring, when certain foods were abundant.

        One cave attests to a primarily hunting culture for several thousand years before some plant gathering is recorded. The Franchthi Cave in the Argolid of Greece is one of the most important palaeolithic sites in Europe, given the depth and wealth of its deposits. Here is a review of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic faunal finds by one of the excavators and a top notch archaeologist at Dartmouth (and someone who sat on my dissertation committee.)

        PALEOLITHIC: (ca. 20,000 - 8300 b.c.)
        [most of Renfrew's Era of Hunting and Gathering]

        The period is divided into three phases on the basis of major shifts in the relative frequencies of the various animal families (genera) attested among the faunal remains (animal bones):

        (A) 70% equid (probably wild ass), ca. 30% red deer; also pig, hare, tortoise, birds.

        (B) 40% equid, 25% red deer, 25% large bovid (i.e. cow), 10% large caprine (wild goat?); also a few small fish; fox and mole at the top of this level.

        (C) 70% red deer, 20% or less equid, ca. 10% pig, no large bovid, sporadic caprine at 10% or less; voles appear.

        Inhabitants of the cave were probably seasonal hunter-gatherers. No certain gathering of plant foods is attested before ca. 11,000 b.c., although large numbers of seeds of the Boraginaceae family may come from plants gathered to furnish soft "bedding" or for the dye which their roots may have supplied. First appearing at ca. 11,000 b.c. are lentils, vetch, pistachios, and almonds. Then ca. 10,500 b.c. and still well within the Upper Paleolithic period appear a few very rare seeds of wild oats and wild barley. Neither wild oats nor wild barley become at all common until ca. 7000 b.c., after which they become a regular and typical feature of the Upper Mesolithic botanical assemblage. At present, there is no evidence for inhabitation of the cave during the winter. The chipped stone industry consists of flint and chert for the most part, although a small amount of obsidian from Melos appears well before the end of the Paleolithic period (ca. 10,900 b.c.); the typical tool is the backed bladelet, a tiny multi-purpose cutting tool, but small end-scrapers (for removing the flesh from hides) are also common. There is no pottery or architecture. No burials have been found.

        MESOLITHIC: (ca. 8300 - 6000 b.c.)
        [end of Renfrew's Era of Hunting and Gathering]

        This period is divided into two phases on the basis of shifting frequencies among the animal families (genera) represented by the faunal remains:

        (D1) ca. 70% or more red deer, ca. 30% or less pig, no equid or caprine, large bovid scarce; also much fox, hare, and birds; hedgehog appears, mole rat disappears; some small fish bones.

        (D2) as for D1, but fish bones increase in number to ca. 20-40% of the total bone assemblage, and these fish are mainly large.

        The plant remains are much the same as those of the preceding Paleolithic period, with the exceptions that wild pears and a few peas begin to appear ca. 7300 b.c. and that wild oats and barley become common after 7000 b.c. The disappearance of the equid and caprine bones from the faunal assemblage and of seeds of the Boraginaceae family from the botanical assemblage, as well as an increase in the number of pistachios, all taking place ca. 8000 b.c., suggest a change of environment to open forests. There is also the possibility, however, that the change in the animal bones represents a change in the hunting preferences or practices of the cave's inhabitants. The overall economic picture of the early (or Lower) Mesolithic (D1) is much the same as that of the latest Paleolithic, although there appears to be a hiatus in occupation of some 300-600 years between the latest Palaeolithic deposits in the cave and the earliest Mesolithic materials.

        The second phase of the Mesolithic (Upper; D2) is characterized by two new developments: (1) the appearance of large quantities of fish bones, particularly those of large fish; (2) the appearance of substantially larger quantities of obsidian from Melos as a material in the local chipped stone industry. These two developments were initially considered to be closely related and to show that the inhabitants of Franchthi Cave not only sailed to Melos (150 kms. away) for obsidian but also fished in deep water for the first time. However, more detailed analysis of the fish bones has shown that the actual number of large fish (probably tuna, for the most part) represented is relatively small; the fish in question might well have been herded into shallow water and clubbed or speared, so their bones need not imply deep-sea fishing. As for the obsidian, its appearance at the cave in small quantities as early as the Upper Paleolithic shows that there need have been no particularly novel developments in the later Mesolithic to explain its presence on the site. The chipped stone industry is now characterized by small, geometrically shaped tools ({microlith}s). There is still no pottery or architecture.

        A novel feature in ground stone during both phases of the Mesolithic is the appearance of millstones made of andesite, imported almost certainly by sea from the Saronic Gulf to the north. The earliest burial found at Franchthi is of Lower Mesolithic date: a 25-year-old male buried in a contracted position in a shallow pit near the mouth of the cave. The pit was covered with fist-sized stones; there were no burial goods; the young man had died from blows to the forehead, but he seems to have already been suffering severely from malaria. Further examination in 1989 of the human bone found throughout the cave resulted in the realization that this Mesolithic male burial lay at the top of a deposit of several other, disturbed Mesolithic burials (five inhumations and two cremations) plus fragments of another two to five individuals that are not necessarily the remains of burials. Analysis of the human bone from elsewhere in the cave produced evidence for at least one other Mesolithic burial, this of the Upper Mesolithic phase, in another location, in addition to fragments of another 6 to 25 individuals sprinkled throughout Mesolithic strata within the cave. These bones represent individuals of all age groups (adults, adolescents, infants, neonates) and hence would appear to make the conclusion inescapable that the human groups that occupied the cave during the Mesolithic did so on a permanent basis. Otherwise, the existence of what amounts to a genuine cemetery here, one which accommodated the full spectrum of the social group occupying the cave, is difficult to explain.

        In his 1995 review of the evidence for the Mesolithic throughout Greece, Runnels argues that the foraging culture of this earliest stage of the Holocene exhibits a number of commonalities wherever it is represented in continental Greece or on the island of Corfu: first, it appears to be unconnected with the preceding Upper Palaeolithic; second, it is manifested at coastal, or near coastal (Kleisoura Gorge in the Argolid), locations only, and is surprisingly absent in some large areas where both preceding Palaeolithic and ensuing Early Neolithic remains are abundantly attested (e.g. eastern Thessaly); third, it exhibits an unusual focus on marine resources and long-distance maritime acquisition networks involving such raw materials as obsidian and andesite, as well as such food resources as tuna; and fourth, it is the first human culture attested in Greece to manifest any concern for the ritualized disposal of its dead. Runnels sees in these various facets of Mesolithic culture grounds for identifying the bearers of Mesolithic culture as an intrusive group approaching the Greek Mainland by water rather than overland and spreading from east (e.g. Franchthi Cave) to west (the open-air site of Sidari on Corfu) during the course of the period. This Mesolithic "colonization" of Greece thus represents for him an episode of demic diffusion from the east that precedes a second such episode about 1500 years later that inaugurates the Neolithic era.

        Last edited by Diktynna; 09-15-2010, 09:47 PM.
        Down almost 40 lbs. 70 to go.


        • #49
          Thanks, Diktynna! Very interesting.
          Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
          Current weight: 199
          Goal: 145


          • #50
            This site in SW Crete is going to reshape our understanding of the palaeolithic in Europe as well as migration patterns emerging from Africa. Keep an eye out for news about this, if you are interested in ancient lifeways. The archaeologists who are working on this site are as shocked as is possible to be shocked by a discovery. It is as if we found a working computer that was excavated from a secure, ancient context from a mesoamerican or Egyptian grave site. It is that unexpected.

            Last edited by Diktynna; 09-16-2010, 04:02 PM.
            Down almost 40 lbs. 70 to go.


            • #51
              >(7). Ground stone mortars, bowls, and cup holes first appeared in the Upper Paleolithic (from 40 000 y ago to 12 000 y ago) (29), whereas the regular exploitation of cereal grains by any worldwide hunter-gatherer group arose with the emergence of the Natufian culture in the Levant 13 000 BP (30).

              I think that It is difficult to judge this because so often grinding bowls are made of wood even today. It would be difficult to preserve these items anywhere there is warmth and humidity because they would rot or be eaten by insects like carpenter ant or termites. Here are some pictures showing what I mean:


              Early humans could also have simply soaked their grains and boiled them like oatmeal without any grinding (like vegans do for beans). Teeth isotope analysis are probably a better tool to determine what they ate.


              • #52
                Originally posted by Steve-O View Post
                Which makes me wonder, should they really be called gatherer-hunters?
                Regardless of which was more important, "hunter-gatherers" flows off the tongue a lot better than "gatherer-hunters" does. When I say it it transforms into "Gatherunters."

                That's all I have to contribute to this thread. Isn't that wonderful?
                You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


                • #53
                  Originally posted by Harry View Post
                  Um, I see fields with probably tens of thousands of wild oats growing closely together all the time.
                  Anecdotal evidence from modern times does not translate to pre-agricultural reality. Those "wild" oats are likely GMO.