Culinary – early humans

My story continues …

“Having eaten meat for some time we developed distinctly from other humanoid species in that we were stronger and more astute. We had not realised it at the time, but eating raw food is not enough for the energy that we need to progress our species. We were spending almost all waking hours hunting and eating. It was only when we started to cook our food that we found ourselves released from continuous foraging, hunting and eating, this was the first difference we noted between us and the other beasts and humanoid species around us.

For example, Homo Erectus spawned two species, Neanderthals and homo sapiens. Neanderthals were mainly forages of berries and grasses whereas homo sapiens learned to cook meat and developed separately from our neanderthal cousins. We evolved a much larger brain and a superior thought process and around 13,000 BCE we introduced agriculture and later farming. This is just before the start of the neolithic period.

So here I am, just a humble man growing grains. The agriculture I refer to is the cultivation of tall grasses. These produce the larger seed types and we have figured out how to get the best yields from them. Harvesting the grasses and separating the stalks from the seeds is hard work, and then you have to ground them to a powder which is even harder work using specially prepared stones. However, once this is done the grain powder only needs to be mixed with water and then heated to produce the most delicious breads. I don’t know how we ever evolved without bread, what would we ever do now without it.

It was agriculture that made it possible to be settlers. Up until this time we had been small tribes of between 20 and 50 people. That’s a lot of small units moving around and a lot of fighting when they encounter each other. Settlements drew peoples together. With the development of grains we had also created our first vice, alcohol. Around 13,000 BCE we also introduced the first grain beverages.

Beer has a number of benefits such as a high B vitamin content, the essential amino acid lysine and the fact it is safer to drink than water as the brewing process kills off bacteria and viruses. It is also a medicinal substance when herbs are mixed into the brew such as sage and thyme. The first brewers therefore also became the first medicinal men. It is true that grain crops were developed more for brewing than for bread and this being our first ever technology after fire and the wheel spread across the known world quite fast, relatively speaking.

As far as our diet goes, the main items were from grain, beer and bread made from wheat, barley, corn and rice depending on the location. Other than these the rest was totally natural, what you call today ‘Raw Food’. Certain diets have emerged called paleo diets which tell you to eat as people did in the Paolithic period and this they say has numerable health benefits. But the introduction of agriculture was also the start of the neolithic period and after grains we started to grow pulses like lentils and peas and then vegetables and fruit.

Once we had developed our crops, we turned to rearing beasts. We found that taming the beasts was the first stage ands a ‘domesticated’ animal is what we created. Selective breeding affects a species quite rapidly and we first realised this with wolves. Every single breed of dog is descended from wolves. Evidence of a domesticated dog is a jawbone found in a cave in Iraq and dated to about 12,000 years ago. It differs from a wolf in that it has been bred to have a smaller jaw and teeth.

We found companionship with dogs, we noted some hunted well and noted some were extremely loyal. Quite unaware we were breeding the dogs with these desirable traits and found that their pups also perpetuated the same characteristics. We bred sheperd’s dogs to have white coats to distinguish them from wolves.

We turned to other beasts and found that very few animals could be domesticated or bred just as only certain vegetables could be grown. A wild pig for example, we breed the more docile ones and the ones that provide most meat and eventually over time arrive at a domesticated pig that is easy to control for food purposes.

Sheep and goats were the first domesticated animals. Not all farming was from settlers, those tribes that remained nomadic were guided by the availability of fresh pastures. Cattle and pigs were domesticated by settlers around 7,000 BCE in Asia. The cow was hugely significant in that it produces much more milk than its offspring requires and it is much stronger than man to work the land. So by about 4,000 BCE ox are widely used to till the land and production increases in line with this and therefore population sizes grows. In India and Asia it is the water buffalo that is used.

The domestication of horses follow around 3,000 BCE. These were originally bred for food until it was realised they were the motorbike of the modern day. Original horse was small, pony size, but due to selective breeding they became the larger cart pulling beasts of today. Their status as primary means of transport wasn’t challenged until the arrival of a steam locomotive in the modern age. Around the same time donkeys and camels are domesticated.

Towards the end of the neolithic period, and therefore the end of the caveman or early man era, circa 2,000 BCE, the domestication of poultry in introduced. Jungle fowl in India and Asia are captured for meat and eggs. It is thought that all domestic poultry in the world today are descended from this one species. The domestication of the rabbit is also moving along at this time.”

In this cave painting below, note the animal and the wheat. This demonstrates the two main items that were most important to the new farmers of crops and animals.

During the hunter-gatherer era it was the bison which was prevalent although other species were hunted, in particular those weaker and slower than bison.

The animal depicted below may well be a domesticated animal pictured here with wheat to signify dominance over nature and food production

Neolithic man begins construction of monuments for burial and worship such as stonehenge and Avebury. Their constructions are so perfectly aligned with the skies and angles so precise that we still don?t know how they did it today.

The Paleolithic Era (or Old Strone Age) is a period of prehistory from about 2.6 million years ago to around 12,000 years ago. The Neolithic Era, (or New Stone Age) began around 10,000 BCE and ended between 4,000 and 3,000 BCE.

The paleolithic era had many species of humanoids all avolving and fighting with each other. They used primitive tools made from the materials and metals known to them at that time. Only one species survived to move into the neolithic era.

The neolithic era saw homo sapien beings discover agriculture and farming as well as new tools and metals. They end the nomadic lifestyle and become settlers.

Paleolithic man is a hunter gatherer. A nomadic people moving to meet favourable foods governed by the seasons. Neolithic man began to settle, grow crops and domesticate animals.

Early man draws a cave painting depicting the beasts that he is hunting. The location may be identified as Western Asia. This is a water buffalo and an Asian elephant. Elephants were domesticated around 6,000 BCE. Previously they were hunted for meat, as was its ancestor the woolly mammoth before becoming extinct.

The woolly mammoth was a common animal across the world except for South America and Australia where no fossils have ever been discovered. Their demise began at the end of the last ice age 12,000 BCE and lasted several thousand years, it is thought they disappeared mostly by 5,000 BCE with several herds surviving on islands until they finally died out around 4,000 BCE.

At the time humanoids started to move through Europe there were 50 million plains bisen roaming the continent, by 6,000 BCE these had disappeared.

o Homo Sapien means ‘wise person’

o Neanderthals discovered in the Neander Valley in Germany

o Neanderthal man lived in Europe and Turkey and died out 30,000 years ago

Russian scientists claim to have grown a plant from the fruit of an arctic flower that froze 32,000 years ago in the Arctic, about the time of the last Neanderthals. Hominids ate fruits during the Neanderthal era. We know this because paleoanthropologists recently found bits of date stuck in the teeth of a 40,000-year-old Neanderthal.

What we think Neanderthals and early humans ate is reflected today in what is termed as the paleo diet. This diet eliminates anything that cannot be hunted or otherwise found in nature.