It wasn't easy living during prehistoric times - a new study has revealed what people feasted on.
Scientists are constantly looking for insights into prehistoric human life, and a recent finding in an Israeli cave could change our understanding of early man completely. According to a report from Discovery News, researchers from Tel Aviv University have discovered that early humans, in addition to munching on large game animals and plants, loved to eat turtles.
Researchers in the Qesem cave, located roughly 12 kilometers east of Tel Aviv, discovered turtle remains that had been prepared in a number of different ways.
“Until now, it was believed that Paleolithic humans hunted and ate mostly large game and vegetal material,” said Ran Barkai, one of the study’s authors. “Our discovery adds a really rich human dimension – a culinary and therefore cultural depth to what we already know about these people.”
Researchers said that early humans also ate large game animals like horses, cattle, and deer, but these animals were usually hunted by adult males. Women and children, left behind from the hunt, would gather the slow-moving turtles to supplement the day’s catch.
Barkai revealed that the marks on the shells indicate that most of the turtles were roasted. In other, more rare cases, turtles were cracked open and killed using flint tools. The study was published on Tuesday in the journal Quarternary Science Reviews.
It’s unclear if the prehistoric hunters and gatherers ate turtle soup, or if they simply liked the reptiles’ meat when it was warmed up over a fire. Turtles are rarely still eaten today, except for a few locales in East Asia. Their meat can be grilled, boiled, or even salted.
The site examined in the study was roughly 400,000 years old, extending back to the days before supermarkets and restaurants. The discovery that ancient people had a taste for turtle meat suggests that they had a rich culinary catalogue, that wasn’t just limited to the types of big game and vegetables they were able to procure.
A press release from Tel Aviv University describing the details of the study can be found here.