CAIRO – 18 September 2022: A study conducted by the British University of Bristol recently confirmed that Neolithic pottery has preserved evidence of early humans' use of grain, thousands of years before the previously proven date.
The research study, conducted by Simon Hamann, Lucy Crump and eight additional researchers, and published in Nature Communications, reveals the results of chemical analyses of pottery taken from four underwater sites surrounding the islands of a small artificial lake called Crannog on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland.
Scientists benefited from the study of impressively preserved pottery vessels dating back to 4000 BC that showed cooking grains mixed with dairy products and sometimes meat, possibly to create early forms of soup, according to a statement from the University of Bristol.
“This research gives us a window into the culinary traditions of the early farmers who lived in the northwest tip of Europe. It gives us our first glimpse into the kinds of practices that were associated with these mysterious sites on the islands,” commented Lucy Crump in a statement.
Previous studies of pottery found at Vindolando, a UNESCO site and a Roman fort in northern England, showed that grain-specific fat marks can survive absorbed into archaeological pottery preserved in waterlogged conditions and can be detected by a highly sensitive approach. However, these findings date back only 2,000 years, at a time when cereals were a known source of food.
The study showed that grains are consistently present in archaeological Neolithic plant collections from across Britain and Ireland, although they are often in relatively small numbers. The biomaterial surviving at British Neolithic sites has mostly indicated the presence of barley in early diets.
The researchers hypothesized that wheat might be under-represented among the charred remains of plants because it is usually boiled.