The remains of the oldest cooked meal ever discovered indicate that even the Neanderthal man in the Stone Age, about 70 thousand years ago, had cooking techniques that characterized the first humans.
The researchers examined remains of burnt plant food, 40-70 thousand years old, which were discovered in recent years in the Schnaider Caves in the Zagros Mountains in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, a well-known archaeological site where the remains of Neanderthal men, women and children were previously discovered. At the same time, the remains of burnt food, the oldest in Europe, were examined, which were discovered in the Frankati cave in southeastern Greece, where the first Homo sapiens, modern humans, lived about 12 thousand years ago.
Scanning electron microscopy identified that the plant food consisted of mixtures of various seeds, wild legumes, wild mustard, wild nuts and wild grasses. The researchers also concluded that in order to make the plants more palatable, early humans soaked the more bitter-tasting legumes, then coarsely ground them or pounded them with stones to remove the skin.
Despite the large gap between the two places, both geographically and in terms of times and human development, the scientists came to the conclusion that Neanderthals and early humans used the same types of plants and similar cooking techniques to prepare their food, and this is in contrast to the notion that Neanderthals ate mainly meat-based food.