Ancestral Appetites: Food in Prehistory by Kristen J. Gremillion

By Kristen J. Gremillion

This ebook explores the connection among prehistoric humans and their foodstuff - what they ate, why they ate it, and the way researchers have pieced jointly the tale of earlier foodways from fabric strains. modern human nutrition traditions surround a likely endless sort, yet all are basically techniques for assembly uncomplicated dietary wishes built over thousands of years. people are designed via evolution to regulate our feeding habit and meals expertise to satisfy the calls for of quite a lot of environments via a mix of social and experiential studying. during this booklet, Kristen J. Gremillion demonstrates how those evolutionary tactics have formed the diversification of human vitamin over numerous million years of prehistory. She attracts on facts extracted from the cloth is still that offer the one direct proof of ways humans procured, ready, offered, and fed on nutrients in prehistoric instances.

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Art, personal ornamentation, ritual behavior (and inferred belief in the supernatural) all signal the attribution of meaning to people, animals, and objects. Whatever the source of this cognitive shift, it had implications for the mundane tasks involved in 36 Foraging the food quest. The improved methods for obtaining and preparing food that emerged in the Late Pleistocene, although they built on earlier technologies, seem to bear the hallmarks of the new mind: a reliance on symbolic communication to share and accumulate knowledge and a penchant for innovation in the face of changing conditions.

Where did this novel behavioral repertoire come from? Neanderthals may have shared in and contributed to the suite of traits we think of as modern, but they were not its ultimate source. Neanderthal ancestry also does not quite square with the distribution of genetic variation in modern populations. It turns out that all of us alive today are descended from a single population that lived in Africa some 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. This date is an estimate based on the mutation rates of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), a specific sort of DNA that is handed down from mother to daughter, but is also supported by fossil and archaeological evidence that has emerged since the first mtDNA studies.

Culture is an optimal way to combine and balance the benefits of innovation and tradition, invention and inheritance. It was an adaptation that was to prove enormously successful in the changeable and unpredictable world of the Late Pleistocene, the last gasp of the Earth’s most recent ice age. THE LATE PLEISTOCENE WORLD The natural world in which modern people honed their survival skills would seem alien to us in many ways. 1). Though sometimes referred to as the “Ice Age,” this label is somewhat misleading in that it glosses over this era’s most salient characteristic as far as people are concerned: its variability.

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