FLORENCE, Italy, Oct. 18 (UPI) — The idea that our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors lived on low-carb meat diets is wrong, Italian researchers say — they liked their daily bread, too.
Researchers at the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History in Florence analyzed the wear marks and traces of plants on 30,000-year-old grindstones found in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic, NewScientist.com reported.
Their examination showed they had been used as mortars and pestles to grind plants like cat’s tail and fern roots, both of which contain large amounts of high-energy starch and carbohydrates.
The study suggests Stone Age humans across Europe knew how to make flour, a complex process of drying, grinding and finally cooking harvested roots to make them digestible.
The development of flour may have helped hunter-gatherers survive changes in the climate, from chilly winters to parched summers, researcher Anna Revedin says.
The reason most scientists believed Paleolithic humans lived solely on wild meat, Revedin says, is that overzealous archaeologists washed previous plant evidence away as they cleaned the ancient tools found at dig sites.
“This is the first time anybody has tried to find vegetable material on them,” she says.
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