Turtle soups and stews are already well-known dishes in China and other East Asian cuisines, but this new study shows that prehistoric men relished eating tortoise, as well.
A team of Spanish, German and Israeli researchers made an interesting finding at the Qesem cave site in Israel. During their explorations they were astounded to find huge quantities of tortoise remains, which brought more light onto the culinary tastes of ancient humans.
As it turns out, the hunt-gatherers would crack open the tortoise and eat it as sort of a delicacy, roasted in its shell, on top of the main meal.
Ran Barkai, the lead author of the study, reveals that the 400,000-year old tortoises presented cut marks on them, which implies that they were slaughtered with flint knives.
The evidence they found was enough to demonstrate that prehistoric men feasted on these vertebrates regularly, eating them as a side dish. Archeologists say that these humans inhabited the Qesem cave site roughly 400,000 to 200,000 years ago and that they ate tortoises regularly, as they were very easy to catch.
However, researchers suggest that cave-dwellers had a much bigger appetite for deer and aurochs, even though hunting was not at all easy in those days. In order to catch a prey, they would need to be organized in large groups and possess powerful weapons.
That being said, vegetables represented a large part of their daily meals and tortoises were eaten regularly, as they were slow moving and did not require chasing. For this reason, it’s quite possible that older people were tasked with catching and cooking the tortoises, while the young men would be left finding the more difficult animals.
Ran Barkai believes that these discoveries bring a colorful human dimension of the ancient men and a better understanding of their culture and traditions, thus creating a better picture about the people who inhabited this planet before us.
The Israelian site was discovered in the early 2000 by workers who were constructing a road in that specific area and has been the subject of many studies ever since. It has fascinated researchers for years, due to the rare glimpse that it offers into the human evolutionary patterns.
The study was published in Quaternary Science Reviews and it was led by Dr. Ruth Blasco of the Centro Nacional de Investigacion Sobre la Evolucion Humana, along with Prof. Ran Barkai and Prof. Avi Gopher of TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations.
Image Source: Telegraph