Prehistoric humans ate tortoises as appetiser or side dish: archaeologists discover

Prehistoric humans ate tortoises as appetiser or side dish: archaeologists discover

Ancient humans enjoyed munching on tortoises as well as large game, a new study conducted by a team of archaeologists at Tel Aviv University suggested.

The team led by Tel Aviv University’s archaeologist Ran Barkai analyzed tortoise shells discovered in the Qessem cave, and determined that the tortoises were cracked open by hunter-gatherers.

Cut marks on the 400,000-year-old tortoise shells also indicated that the animals were butchered using flint knives.

The researcher also determined that prehistoric cave-dwellers cooked and ate tortoises as an appetiser or side dish, because their main diet was dominated by large animals and vegetation.

Sharing the findings of their study, Barkai said, “Now we know they ate tortoises in a rather sophisticated way. It would have been a supplement - an appetizer, dessert or a side dish - to the meat and fat from large animals.”

Qessem cave, which was uncovered during road construction in 2000, has been offering scientists an unprecedented insight into human evolution. Ancient bones found in the cave indicated that cave-dwellers’ ate calorie-rich diet, consisted of horses, deer and wild ox in addition to plant-based material.

The new findings by the research team, which included researchers from Germany and Spain, were published in a recent edition of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

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