Reconstruction of those consumed in the past by chemical residues on ancient cooking utensils

Seven La Chamba Unglated Ceramic Potts used in a year-long cooking experiment that analyzed the chemical residues of the food prepared. Sincerely: Melanie Miller

Archaeologists believe that undeclared ceramic cookware absorbs the chemical residues of current and past food.

If you dig an ancient ceramic cooking pot, do not clean it. Chances are, it contains the culinary secrets of the past.

A research team led by UC Berkeley archaeologists has discovered that un-cooked ceramic cookware can not only retain the remains of a previous cook, but, presumably, an earlier pot cooked during the lifetime of the pot, which is in the past. Opens a window.

The findings, reported in the magazine Scientific report, Suggestions that gastronomic practices are going back millennium – say, Aztec Turkey, to cook hominy Pozole Or the possibility of bean stew served at the final banquet – rearing the earthenware and analyzing the absorbed chemical compounds in which they were prepared.

The study’s co-lead author, Melanie Miller, a researcher, said, “Our data can help better assimilate the food and specific materials people have eaten in the past. At the Archaeological Research Facility in Berkeley and the University of Otago in New Zealand As a postdoctoral scholar.

In a year-long cooking experiment led by Miller and Berkeley archaeologist Christine Hestorff, seven chefs each made 50 meals prepared by combining venison, corn (corn) and wheat flour in a newly prepared La Chamba ceramic pot. This strong, burnt black pottery dates back to pre-Colombian South America, and handcrafted utensils are popular today for preparing and serving traditional foods.

The group came up with the idea at the Hastorf Archaeological Graduate Seminar in Berkeley. By analyzing the chemical residues of the food cooked in each pot, the researchers tried to learn whether the deposits found in ancient cooking vessels would show only the remains of the last dish, or previous food, as well.

In addition to receiving donated deer roadkill, he purchased large quantities of whole grains and a mill, which Hestorf installed in his garage, to grind them. The group then developed a repository of six dishes using deer meat and whole and mixed grains.

They picked up staple material that can be found in many parts of the world. For example, two recipes focused on homini, which is made by soaking corn in an alkaline solution, while two others use wheat flour.

“We learned how easy it would be for food to separate the chemicals in the food from one another and how the dishes would react to isotopic and chemical values,” said Hestorf, a Berkeley professor of anthropology who studies food. Chose. Archeology, among other things.

How did they study

Each of the seven chefs cooked an experimental meal weekly in a la Chamba pot using the group’s specified ingredients. “There was a lack of taste in the food and we did not eat them,” said Miller.

Every eighth meal was enchanted to replicate the types of carbonated remains that archaeologists often encounter in ancient pottery and to mimic what would normally happen in the lifetime of a pot. Between each meal, the pot was cleaned with water and a branch from an apple tree. Surprisingly, none of them broke during the study.

At the center of Berkeley’s Center for Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry, the team analyzed the charred residues and carbonated patins that had evolved on the vessel. Stable isotopes are atoms whose composition does not decay over time, which is useful for archaeological studies. Analysis of fatty lipids was absorbed into ceramics University of Bristol In England.

Overall, chemical analysis of food residues showed that the food residuals were represented in different residues. For example, there is evidence of the latest food cooked in burnt bits on the bottom of a pot, while remnants of prior food can be found in patina that were made elsewhere on the interior of the pot and in lipid residues that are absorbed Went pottery.

These results give scientists a new tool to study diets over a long period of time and also give clues to the food production, supply and distribution chains of previous eras.

“We have opened the door for others to take this experiment to the next level and record more time in which food residues can be identified,” Miller said.

References: “Explaining Ancient Food Practices: Stable Isotopes of Visible and Absorbent Residues from a Year-Long Cooking Experiment” by Melanie J. Miller, Helen L. Whelton, Jillian A. Swift, Sophine Mullin, Simon Humman, Lucy J.E. Molecular Analysis. ” Cramp, Alexandra McCleary, Geoffrey Taylor, Kirsten Veka, Fanya Beck, Richard P. Evershed and Christine A. Hestorf, 27 August 2020, Scientific report.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-70109-8

In addition to Miller and Hestorf, co-authors of the study at UC Berkeley are Alexandra McCleary and Geoffrey Taylor; Helen Whelton, Simon Humman, Lucy Cramp and Richard Evershed at the University of Bristol; Jillian Swift at the Bernice Pauhee Bishop Museum in Hawaii; Sophia Malin at the University of Southern California; Kirsten Veka and independent scholar Fanya Beck at the University of West-O’ahu, Hawaii.