A group of scientists and researchers have been trying to gather information about how humans survived more than 10,000 years ago. After carrying out a thorough research on various remains they able to find out that even before the beginning of agriculture human beings used ceramic pots to cook wild plants.
These kinds of findings have led us to believe that these remains are the most direct and also earliest incidents which signify that our ancient ancestors used to process plants for their food.
The vessels which were studied were discovered in the country of Libya. The vessels contained several traces of wild shrubs some of which were cock spur or cattail. They also contained some traces of the fruits and leaves of fig trees as well as traces of some of the plants such as star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg.
There were also some remains of some of the aquatic plants which are even consumed in today’s world. The process of cooking was a significant milestone in human evolution and mastering that art was a huge event. It helped vastly to broaden the diet of our ancestors and provided them with new and easily available sources of energy. Most of the plants which were available at that time would definitely have been indigestible or poisonous if eaten raw without cooking. Though it is not known with certainty that from when our ancestors started to eat roasted meat, but research has shown that the earliest forms of ceramic vessels which were heat resistant were used more than 15,000 years ago.
There was also abundant evidence that early humans were about to boil different animal products during this time. There is also surprisingly less amount chemical traces of wild plants being cooked in the similar manner present on the ceramic cookware.
Leading author and a research fellow at University of Bristol England, Julie Dunne said,“Until now, the importance of plants in prehistoric diets has been under-recognized.” She further clarified, “What we have found is the first direct evidence of the cooking of plants, which seems to have happened at the same time pottery was invented in North Africa.”
The research papers were published in a journal named Natural Plants. The research also analyzed about 110 known pot fragments which were discovered in the region of Libyan Sahara at two completely different sites. These sites would have been full of vegetation and similar to an oasis at that time, and were called UanAfuda and Takarkori.
The rock shelter of Takarkoriis one of those rare sites which experienced the gradual change from the hunter and gatherers, includes humans who survived from approximately 8200 BC to about 6400 BC, to those who were concerned with agriculture and plant domestication. In the research a technique known as organic residue analysis was used to detect all the plant remains. It utilized those signature molecules which had made their way to the unglazed pots.The Neolithic human beings were not known to be vegetarians though the used to cook some fruits and vegetables.
“Some pots seemed to be used to process plants only, some to process meats,” Dunne stated. “And some were used to process a mixture of both.”
It is also widely agreed that the art of pottery was developed by our ancestors twice in our history, initially about 16000 years ago in East Asia and then 4000 years later in parts of North Africa.
Julie Dunne also said, “Ceramics are a major technological invention which allows the processing of foodstuffs in different ways.”