Ancient Food: Stone Age Stone Ground Flour

published Oct 20, 2010
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In the popular imagination, the Stone Age diet contains one thing: meat. But according to a paper published this week, people across Europe were grinding and eating grains as flour 20,000 years before the dawn of agriculture.

Does this mean the end of the Caveman Diet? Let’s hope so.

Archaeologists have found abundant evidence of meat-eating in early human civilizations — stone hunting blades, animal bones with cut-marks — but plant matter disappears more quickly over time and stone tools were typically washed before being studied. In the early 2000s, archaeologists in Italy began analyzing unwashed stone implements and discovered they were covered with microscopic starch grains. The tools seem to be an ancient type of mortar and pestle, used to grind the roots of of a type of cattail and seeds from a certain species of grass.

Similar grinding tools with starch residues were found at sites in the Czech Republic and Moscow, also dating from 30,000 years ago. It turns out humans have been using plants as a reliable, nutritious source of food for much longer than previously thought.

Read the article: Stone Age Flour Found Across Europe – Nature News

What does this mean for followers of the “caveman lifestyle” written about earlier this year in the New York Times? Their diet, which consists of large, meat-based meals followed by fasting periods, may just have to make room for a a few cattails.

Related: Do You Own a Mortar and Pestle?

(Image: Flickr member recoverling, licensed under Creative Commons)