If you thought Neanderthals survived on a diet of foraged berries and uncooked animal flesh, think again. Charred remnants of what appears to be the world’s oldest cooked meal ever found have been unearthed in a cave complex in northern Iraq, prompting speculation that Neanderthals may have been foodies.
“Our findings are the first real indication of complex cooking – and thus of food culture – among Neanderthals,” said Chris Hunt, a professor of cultural paleoecology at Liverpool John Moores University, who coordinated the excavation.
Hunt and his colleagues have even tried to recreate one of the recipes, using seeds gathered from nearby the caves. “It made a sort of pancake-cum-flatbread which was really very palatable – a sort of nutty taste,” Hunt said.
The burned food remnants – the oldest ever found – were recovered from the Shanidar Cave site, a Neanderthal dwelling 500 miles north of Baghdad in the Zagros Mountains. Thought to be about 70,000 years old, they were discovered in one of many ancient hearths in the caves. [Continue reading…]