When the elephants left the Levant about 400,000 years ago, the early man used more brains than headcheese to fill the giant caloric vacuum: after a 360-degree analysis of incisions on deer bones dug in an Israeli cave, a new study of the University of Tel Aviv was discovered what scientists say is the first proof of food preservation.
The study, published on October 9 in the open access science journal Science Advances, demonstrates through the most visceral methodology how settlers in the Israeli cave Qesem deliberately stored bone marrow in deer bones. Through a replication experiment, scientists found that this method protects valuable fat proteins from bacterial invaders for up to nine weeks.
"For the first time, we show in our research that 420,000 to 200,000 years ago the prehistoric people in Qesem Cave were sophisticated enough, intelligent enough and talented enough to know that it is possible to preserve certain animal bones under certain conditions and when necessary, remove skin, break bones and eat bone marrow – said in a statement prof. Avi Gopher from the University of Tel Aviv.
The study, including replication of storage methods for freshly killed deer, was conducted by Dr. Ruth Blasco of the TAU Institute of Archeology and ancient Middle Eastern civilizations and the Spanish Centro Nacional de Investigación Sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH). She was supported and supported by prof. TAU Ran Barkai and Gopher, as well as collaborators from other international institutions.
According to Blasco, the ability to store food for future use "sets the threshold for new ways of paleolithic human adaptation."
The Qesem Cave, located about 12 km east of Tel Aviv, was discovered in 2000. During road works. According to new research, "Bone marrow storage and delayed intake in Middle Pleistocene Qesem Cave, Israel (420-200 ka)", a large amount of burned flint and bone and 13 human teeth were produced in the excavations in the cave.
After morphometric analysis and 3D scanning, write to the authors, researchers believe that teeth with Qes "are not from Homo erectus (summer sense), but have similarities with late Pleistocene local Skhul and Qafzeh populations, as well as some Neanderthal affinities. Therefore, human fossils may belong to the still unknown local line of Levant hominins. "
New research is making progress in dispelling the widespread belief that Palaeolithic peoples were gatherers of hunters who lived in person, scholars say. Quite the opposite: using only Stone Age technology, they were able to plan a shorter future.
With a small amount of Tupperware or aluminum foil on hand, the bone marrow was stored in the bones of fallow deer, which were left wrapped in animal skins.
"We've found that preserving bones and skin for a period that can last for weeks, enabled early humans to break bones when needed and eat still nutritious bone marrow," adds Dr Blasco.
In the replication experiment, scientists used the clothing of an adult or primary adult deer (Cervus elaphus) from the Spanish Boumourt Game Reserve. The guards separated the metapodials, long bones of the hands and feet from the fore and hind limbs. According to research: "This procedure is common among reserve guards when carrying out spring and winter population controls to prepare carcasses for meat consumption; metapodes are systematically rejected because they do not contain meat. "
In the three-part series of experiments, approximately 79 metapodials were used, which were designed to reflect various environmental scenarios. The article describes that the first two were made in natural outdoor conditions in autumn and spring in the Mediterranean Pyrenees region.
Only the third scenario was to recreate Israel's Mediterranean environmental conditions, the authors write. It was carried out at the Museum of Natural History (MNCN) in Madrid, Spain, in an internal simulation of climate conditions.
According to this statement, the researchers found that the combination of archaeological and experimental results enabled them to recognize specific cutting marks associated with dry skin removal. Similarly, in a modern replication experiment, scientists were able to determine a low bone marrow fat degradation rate, including spoilage and caloric value, up to nine weeks of exposure.
Pay attention to the authors: "Marrow extraction is a cheap action on fat removal because it only takes a few minutes to completely process the bone, especially if the bone is not covered with flesh, as is the case with metapodials." in addition to food, this product was also used by ancient people as a method of impregnating skins, treating chords, fuel for lighting and tanning skins, the authors write.
"Bones were used as" cans "that protected the bone marrow for a long time, until it was time to remove dry skin, break the bone and eat bone marrow," said Barkai in a statement.
According to Barkai, conservation methods only appeared when elephants were no longer available to humans as a food source.
"Prehistoric people in our region had to develop and invent new ways of living. This behavior has allowed people to evolve and enter a much more sophisticated type of socio-economic life, "said Barkai.