Pot remains reveal the secret of ancient food

A team of archaeologists from the University of California, Berkeley has published a new research paper in the journal Scientific report , Which presents evidence that ancient ceramics sometimes retain microscopic food residues, which, after chemical analysis, can reveal not only what was last cooked in a pot, but of a pot. It was also cooked in a lifetime.

Co-lead author, Melanie Miller, a Berkeley researcherA postdoctoral scholar at the Archaeological Research Facility and the University of Otago in New Zealand points out that the new data enable better reconstruction of specific materials that people used to consume in the past, “highlighting social, political and environmental relationships within ancient communities” Huh. . ”

The study found that ceramic cooking utensils record the history of ancient food practices.  (Archaeological Research Facility / UC Berkeley)

The study found that ceramic cooking utensils record the history of ancient food practices. ( Archaeological Research Facility / UC Berkeley)

Chefs and scientists unite to study ancient cuisine

Over the course of a year, Miller joined forces with Berkeley archaeologist Christine Hastorf to inspect a team of seven chefs preparing fifty meals with various combinations of venison, corn and wheat flour. The food was cooked in a black clay La Chamba ceramic pot native to all former Kali Colombia South America. According to the paper, in addition to cooking with “Dan deer kill the road”, they used large quantities of whole grains, which they developed together into six ancient dishes. Unfortunately, “Milky’s food was lacking,” Miller explains, and so researchers didn’t eat them.

The chemical residues of the food cooked in each pot were analyzed to ascertain whether the samples found on ancient cooking vessels only reflected the final foods cooked within any given pot, or Even from the last meal. Hastrophe, Barthley Professor of Anthropology and Food Archeology, states that these particular foods were chosen not only because they were available throughout the ancient world, but also specifically in identifying the traces of their chemicals within the pot Used to help The researchers monitored how the pots react to the isotopic and chemical values ​​of various food combinations.

Samples of ancient pottery are being taken.  (University of Bristol)

Samples of ancient pottery are being taken. ( University of Bristol )

Lipid residue, hold the key to the last meal

In berkeleyThe Center for the Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry was tested in different cooking environments and every eighth test food was consecrated to recreate the types of carbonated residues often sampled by archaeologists inside ancient plots Go. Utensils were cleaned with water and branches from an apple tree, adding real-life variables present in ancient hunter camps. Researchers noted that they were “surprised” that any of these ancient scrubbing tools broke during their experiment.

The analysis of fatty lipids that were absorbed in a clay cooker was done at the University of Bristol in England. This showed that “different meal times were represented in different remains.” For example: samples of food cooked in pottery were filled with particles of food cooked in the previous pot, while lipid residues in the upper-patina were absorbed into the pottery, which remains of the former food. Were. Were also discovered. The paper argues that this new method of observation not only reveals inaccessible data concerning ancient diets, but also “provides information related to the food production, supply and distribution chains of past eras.”

La Chamba uses non-ceramic utensils that were used for one year in cooking, analyzing chemical residues from food.  Source: Melanie Miller / Nature

La Chamba uses non-ceramic utensils that were used for one year in cooking, analyzing chemical residues from food. Source: Melanie Miller / Nature

Berklee and Bristol: The New Heavyweights of Ancient Food Science

The pottery samples were sent from California to England because it was a team of scientists from the University of Bristol, who announced success in locating food on ancient pottery back in April. At the time, I described it as “the holy grail of dating techniques” Ancient origin News article. According to the letter that was published in the magazine NatureNew archaeological dating techniques were applied to the pottery sharps exposed by an excavation in East London Soreditch which contained traces of meat and dairy products, which were created and consumed in 3,600 BC by descendants of Europe’s first farmers.

This groundbreaking new dating technique, known as accelerator mass spectrometry analysis, analyzes fatty acid samples rather than traditional radiocarbon testing methods, which only examine radiocarbons found in all organic materials. The efficacy of this system was tested and approved when it correctly took samples of pottery from archaeological sites of known ages. When married with new observational methods coming out of California, there is no question that the transatlantic collaboration between the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and the University of California at Berkeley is leading the charge to discover our ancestors anciently is. Diet and the methods used to prepare and cook them.

Top image: Ancient person eating. Credit: Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock


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