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Starches Detected in Paleolithic Diet of Southeastern Europe

Thursday, February 3, 2022

ROME, ITALY—Science News reports that hunter-gatherers who lived in the central Balkan Peninsula some 11,500 years ago dined on wild cereals some 3,000 years before early farmers from southwest Asia arrived in the region with domesticated grains. Previous chemical analysis of the bones of Balkan hunter-gatherers indicates that they ate a lot of fish and other animal protein, but now Emanuela Cristiani of Sapienza University and her colleagues have detected microscopic traces of starch granules in the dental calculus of 60 hunter-gatherers who lived in the central Balkans. The same starches have been found on the grinding surfaces of 17 stone implements at one of the Balkan sites investigated. These hunter-gatherers “balanced their diet with plant foods and did so for millennia before the arrival of agriculture,” Cristiani explained. Read the original scholarly article about this research in eLife. To read about a study of the effects of changing diet on linguistic development, go to "You Say What You Eat."

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