What did the ancient people eat? Now scientists can tell us.

A pot on fire

What’s cooking?
Photo: farluk (Getty Images)

An old pot is never clean, no matter how much you rub. The people of the old days had probably already figured out before antibacterial soap, but they left their utensils for archaeologists to find. They did not give up cookbooks, either because they did not have them, or because the books had disintegrated for centuries, or because they just wanted to make things more fun for archaeologists. (I’m kidding! They probably didn’t have a cookbook.)

But now a team of archaeologists at the University of California-Berkeley has developed a method of analyzing chemical compounds in residues on undeclared ceramics to determine what was cooked in them. They did not use real ancient utensils. Instead they used the newly purchased La Chamba pot that was handmade in Colombia in a traditional way by the craftsman. Over the course of several months, seven chefs prepared 50 meals in the pot using deer roadkill and cereal donated to the researcher’s garage. They were doing it intentionally in every eighth meal. They cleaned water from apple trees and pots between meals with branches. The food itself was not very good and no one ate them, but the quality was not really the point. Instead they monitored the ingredients they used and at the end of the testing period, they sent utensils to laboratories at the University of Bristol in Berkeley and the UK to see if there was any evidence of food.

And, readers, they did! “For example,” one explains Press release From Berkeley, “included evidence of the latest food cooked in burnt bits on the bottom of a pot, while remnants of earlier food could be found in the patina that was made elsewhere on the interior of the pot and in lipid residues that absorbed Went pottery. “

Scientists were very excited. Now when they examine the old utensils, they can find evidence of all the food that was prepared in a particular pot, which will give them a better idea of ​​the ingredients that the ancient cooks used and then the recipes Help to make from If the pot has traces of ingredients not found locally, it will give scientists a better idea of ​​ancient trade routes and patterns. The study has been published in the journal Scientific report.

One of the study’s co-lead authors, Melanie Miller, said, “Our data can better help in the reconstruction of food and the specific ingredients people have consumed in the past.” Environmental relationships within ancient communities. “


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