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. 2010 Nov 2;107(44):18815-9.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006993107. Epub 2010 Oct 18.

Thirty Thousand-Year-Old Evidence of Plant Food Processing

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Thirty Thousand-Year-Old Evidence of Plant Food Processing

Anna Revedin et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

European Paleolithic subsistence is assumed to have been largely based on animal protein and fat, whereas evidence for plant consumption is rare. We present evidence of starch grains from various wild plants on the surfaces of grinding tools at the sites of Bilancino II (Italy), Kostenki 16-Uglyanka (Russia), and Pavlov VI (Czech Republic). The samples originate from a variety of geographical and environmental contexts, ranging from northeastern Europe to the central Mediterranean, and dated to the Mid-Upper Paleolithic (Gravettian and Gorodtsovian). The three sites suggest that vegetal food processing, and possibly the production of flour, was a common practice, widespread across Europe from at least ~30,000 y ago. It is likely that high energy content plant foods were available and were used as components of the food economy of these mobile hunter-gatherers.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
(A) Bilancino II grindstone and pestle grinder and wear traces. (B) Kostenki 16-Uglyanka, pestle and wear traces (C) Pavlov VI pestle grinder and wear traces.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
(A) Bilancino II, starch grains from grindstone and pestle grinder. a: angular, size range 3–22 μm, hilum not evident. b: angular, size 23 μm, hilum star shaped. c: angular–compound, size range 4–32 μm, hilum not evident. d: circular–elliptic, size range 2–42 μm, hilum not evident. e: circular–elliptic, size range 13–25 μm, hilum Y shaped. f: circular–elliptic, size 24 μm; hilum X shaped. g: elliptic, size range 16–40 μm, hilum linear. h: reniform, size range 10–32 μm, hilum not evident. i: reniform, size 27 μm, hilum V shaped. (B) Kostenki 16–Uglyanka, starch grains from pestle. j: angular–compound, size 7 μm, hilum not evident. k: circular–elliptic, size range 2–37 μm, hilum not evident. (C) Pavlov VI starch grains from pestle grinder. l: angular, size range 3–15 μm, hilum not evident. m: angular, size range 11–14 μm, hilum Y shaped. n: angular, size range 6–11 μm, hilum star shaped. o: angular, size 15 μm, hilum linear. p: circular–elliptic, size range 3–30 μm, hilum not evident. q: circular–elliptic, size range 5–15 μm, hilum Y shaped. r: circular–elliptic, size range 3–17 μm, hilum X shaped. s: circular–elliptic, size range 8–10 μm, hilum star shaped. t: circular–elliptic, size range 8–18 μm, hilum linear. u: circular–elliptic, size range 4–18 μm, hilum circular.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Starch grains. (A) From Bilancino pestle grinder: morphotype a, angular grain, hilum not evident. (B) From Bilancino pestle grinder: morphotype d, circular–elliptic, hilum not evident. (C) From Bilancino grindstone: morphotype e, circular–elliptic grain, hilum Y shaped. (D) From Pavlov pestle grinder, morphotype l, angular grain, hilum not evident. (E) From Pavlov pestle grinder: morphotype p, circular–elliptic, hilum not evident. (F) From Pavlov pestle grinder: morphotype q, circular–elliptic grain, hilum Y shaped. (G) Brachypodium ramosum (fresh plant). (H) Typha latifolia (fresh plant). (I) Sparganium erectum (fresh plant). (J) Botrychium ternatum (fresh plant).

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