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Mesolithic Cuisine Analyzed in Germany

Friday, November 30, 2018

Germany Mesolithic cookingDRESDEN, GERMANY—According to a report in Cosmos, a team of scientists led by Anna Shevchenko of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology has analyzed food residues in pots unearthed at the Mesolithic site of Friesack 4, which is located in northeastern Germany. Shevchenko and her team explained that protein analysis allows scientists to distinguish between ancient substances and recent contaminants, and may even identify ingredients from specific animals and plants. Changes in the properties of the proteins can also point to cooking methods, they said. In one of the 6,000-year-old pots, they found traces of poached freshwater carp eggs. A crust on the rim of the pot, spotted with electron microscopy, suggests it was probably covered with a cap of leaves. The scientists were not able to determine the species of the leaves, and they are not sure whether they were used to flavor the roe as it cooked, or just keep the heat of the fire in the pot. Analysis of another dish from the site detected a meal made of pork cooked with bones, sinews, or skin. To read about the use of proteins and DNA to study ancient manuscripts, go to “The Hidden Stories of the York Gospel.”

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