In the Brandenburg region of Germany and not far from Berlin, archaeologists excavating the site of Friesack 4 have discovered the 6,000-year-old remains of Stone Age food which was radio-carbon dated to 4,300 BCE, and it has been concluded that our Stone Age ancestors were actually quite sophisticated in their tastes when you consider the time in which they lived.
As Cosmos Magazine reported, in a new study, Anna Shevchenko, of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology, headed up a group of scientists who examined the remnants of a meal left behind in an earthenware bowl which would have been served during the Stone Age. To do this, scientists studied proteins that had been left in the food that was still stuck to the ceramic bowl.
It was found that this Stone Age meal would have consisted of freshwater carp eggs that would have been gently sauteed in fish broth. On top of this dish there were leaves of some variety which may have been placed there to keep the steam within the bowl while also adding a hint of flavor. The 6,000-year-old dish would actually have been remarkably similar to the Korean soup known as altang and was not unlike food that is served in restaurants around the world today.
The ceramic bowl which contained the Stone Age food was just one of 150,000 artifacts that have been unearthed from Friesack 4 and there are numerous other pieces of clay and stoneware pottery at the site, plus objects that were fashioned out of antlers, bones, and wood.
In the new study, Shevchenko and her team have described how difficult it is for most archaeologists to accurately determine what food substances have been left behind in the artifacts that are found. Because of this, she noted that it is often quite necessary to make educated guesses about food based on factors like fats and isotopes and then to combine this with a thorough examination of the artifacts themselves, or any artwork or written words that were left behind in similar cases.
However, proteomics, which is the study of proteins and also a fairly new field of study, yields much better results than simply making assumptions about the food left behind. In the case of the Stone Age food that was studied, it was suggested that carp roe was obtained in Dresden and 125 milligrams of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon was also picked up for the ancient dish.
According to researchers, fish roe can normally be consumed “grilled, fired, marinated, baked, smoked, dried, cured, and also boiled in broth.” With this meal, scientist believe the the fish was “cooked in a small volume of water or fish broth, for example by poaching on embers.”
The fascinating new study on the research involved in identifying the remains of the Stone Age meal found in Germany has been published in PLOS One.