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Residues Hint at Indus Valley Civilization Foodways

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

BARCELONA, SPAIN—According to a statement released by Frontiers, Akshyeta Suryanarayan, Juan José García-Granero, and Marco Madella of Pompeu Fabra University analyzed residues in 4,000-year-old cooking pots and tableware unearthed at Shikarpur, a Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization site in northwestern India. They compared what they found with residues from older, Copper Age vessels made by semi-nomadic farmers and herders who lived in Datrana and Loteshwar, two additional sites in the region. The researchers detected wild and cultivated foods in both the Copper Age and Bronze Age containers. Most of the starch grains identified in vessels from Datrana were either wheat, barley, rye, or their wild relatives, which may have been imported. Most of the starches in the vessels from Shikarpur and Loteshwar, however, came from beans. Many of the vessels from all three sites contained animal fats from omnivores such as pigs, birds, or rabbits, even though most of the animal bones from these sites belong to cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, wild deer, and nilgai antelope. Fats from these ruminants were used much less often in cooking. The researchers concluded that the lack of any millet in the cooking pots suggests that the staple crop was reserved for breads. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. To read about analyzing faunal remains to trace the origins of Indian curries, go to "World Roundup: India."

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