The Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, Oranim Academic College, Israel Institute of Oceanographic and Terrestrial Studies, and the Museum of Natural History analyzed a giant carp fossil (2 meters long). Johannes Gutenberg University in London and Mainz gives the earliest indication of cooking by prehistoric humans, he dates to 780,000 years ago, about 600,000 years earlier than available data.
A detailed analysis of the remains of a carp-like fish found at the Geshel Benot Yaakov (GBY) site in Israel shows that the fish was cooked about 780,000 years ago. Cooking is defined as the ability to process food by controlling the temperature at which it is heated and includes a variety of methods.
To date, the earliest evidence of cooking dates back to about 170,000 years ago. The question of when early humans began cooking with fire has been the subject of much scientific debate for over a century. These findings shed new light on this issue, natural ecology and evolution.
The study was carried out by Dr. Irit Zohar, a researcher at TAU’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and curator of the Bate-Margolin Biological Collection at Oranim Academic College, and HU’s Professor Naama Goren-Inbar, director of the excavation site. led by the team. The research team also included Dr. Marion Prevost of the HU Archaeological Institute. Professor Nira Alperson-Afil, BIU’s Israeli Research Archeology Department. Dr. Jens Najolka, Natural History Museum, London. Dr. Guy Sisma Ventura, Israel Institute of Marine and Terrestrial Waters. His Professor Thomas Tütken at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and his Professor Israel Hershkovitz at his TAU Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Zohar and Dr. Prevost said: It reconstructs the fish populations of ancient Lake Hula for the first time, showing that the lake was home to fish species that have become extinct over time. ”
“These species included giant spines (carp-like fish) that could reach two meters in length. These new discoveries not only indicate that freshwater habitats and the fish they contain were important for prehistoric human nutrition, but also indicate that prehistoric It also shows that humans understand the ability to control fire to cook food and the benefits of cooking fish before eating it.”
In this study, researchers focused on pharyngeal teeth belonging to the Cyprinidae family, which are used to grind hard foods such as shells. These teeth were found in large numbers in various archaeological formations at the site. By studying the structure of the crystals that form tooth enamel (which increase in size when exposed to heat), the researchers found that fish caught in the ancient Lake Hula, adjacent to the site, were suitable for cooking. I was able to prove it was exposed to temperature. , was not a simple burning down by spontaneous combustion.
Until now, evidence for the use of fire in cooking was limited to sites that were used much later than the GBY site, about 600,000 years later. Most of them are related to the emergence of our own species, Homo he sapiens.
Professor Goren-Inbar adds: Abilities of the Ashuria hunter-gatherers of the ancient Hula Valley region. ”
“These groups had a deep familiarity with the environment and the various resources it provided. Acquisition of the skills necessary for sanitation represented an important evolutionary advance that provided an additional means of making optimal use of available food resources. It may even have included different kinds of animals and plants.
Professor Hershkovitz and Dr. Zohar say the shift from raw to cooked foods had a dramatic impact on human development and behavior. Eating cooked food reduces the body’s energy needed to break down and digest food, allowing other body systems to develop.It also leads to changes in the structure of the human jaw and skull.
This change freed humans from the intensive daily work of searching for and digesting raw food, giving them more free time to develop new social and behavioral systems. considers eating fish to be a milestone in a quantum leap in human cognitive evolution, providing a central catalyst for human brain development.
They claim that eating fish made us human. Even today, it is widely known that the content of fish meat, such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and iodine, greatly contributes to brain development.
The researchers believe that freshwater sites, some of which dried up into arid deserts, determined the routes that early humans migrated from Africa to the Levant and beyond. Not only have these habitats provided drinking water and attracted animals to the area, catching fish in shallow water is a relatively easy and safe task with very high nutritional rewards.
The team speculates that exploiting fish in freshwater habitats was the first step for prehistoric humans to escape Africa. Early humans began eating fish about 2 million years ago, but as this study discovered, cooking fish represented a true revolution in the diet of Ashurians, and when they tried is an important foundation for understanding the relationships between humans, environment, climate, and migration in humans. To reconstruct early human history.
It should be noted that evidence of the use of fire at the site (the oldest such evidence in Eurasia) was first identified by Professor Nira Alperson-Afil of BIU. “The use of fire is a behavior that characterizes the entire settlement continuum at the site,” she explained. Alperson-Afil’s study of fire at this site was revolutionary for its time and showed that the use of fire began hundreds of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.
HU’s Goren-Inbar added that the GBY archaeological site documents a continuum of repeated settlements by groups of hunter-gatherers on the shores of ancient Lake Hula over tens of thousands of years.
“These groups took advantage of the abundant resources provided by the ancient Hula Valley and left a long settlement continuum of more than 20 settlement strata,” explained Goren-Inbar. Excavations at the site reveal these ancient human material cultures, including flint, basalt and limestone tools, and a food source characterized by an abundance of plant species (including fruit) from the lake and its shores. became. , nuts, and seeds) and by many species of both medium and large land mammals.
Dr Jens Najorka of the Natural History Museum in London explains: Dramatic changes in enamel crystal size are easy to identify, but changes caused by cooking at temperatures between 200 and he 500 degrees Celsius are more difficult to identify. ”
“The experiments I conducted with Dr. Zohar allowed me to identify changes caused by cooking at low temperatures. Given the lack of evidence that the fish was cooked at low temperatures, it is clear that the fish was not cooked over a direct fire or thrown into the fire as a waste or burning material.”
Dr. Guy Sisma Ventura of the Israel Institute of Marine and Terrestrial Water Research and Professor Thomas Tutken of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz were also part of the research group, which analyzed the isotopic composition of oxygen and carbon in fish enamel. . teeth.
“This study on isotopes is a real breakthrough because it reconstructs the four-season hydrological conditions of this ancient lake, making fish a year-round catch and food source rather than a seasonal economic resource. Therefore, the fish provided a constant source of nutrition that reduced the need for seasonal migration.”
For more information:
Irit Zohar, evidence of cooking fish at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov in Israel 780,000 years ago, Natural ecology and evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-022-01910-z.
Courtesy of Tel Aviv University
Quote: The oldest evidence of the use of controlled fire to cook food (14 November 2022) was published on 14 November 2022 at https://phys.org/news/2022-11-oldest- Taken from evidence-cook-food.html.
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