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Early Europeans Ate Seaweed for Hundreds of Years | Sensible Information

Early Europeans Ate Seaweed for Hundreds of Years | Sensible Information

2023-10-19 10:01:21

Plate of seaweed salad

Early people in Europe snacked on seaweed and aquatic crops for hundreds of years, although how they ready and ate them is unclear.
Anna Denisova / Getty Pictures

By analyzing fossilized dental plaque, scientists have discovered new proof that early Europeans ate seaweed and different aquatic crops.

Right now, dental hygienists diligently scrape plaque and tartar off our enamel throughout common cleanings. However earlier than fashionable dentisty, this particles merely constructed up on early people’ enamel and gums.

Happily for archaeologists, a few of that plaque has survived for hundreds of years.

In a examine revealed this week within the journal Nature Communications, researchers analyzed samples of preserved dental plaque from the stays of 74 early people unearthed at 28 European archaeological websites. Among the enamel had been round 2,000 years outdated, whereas others had been greater than 8,000 years outdated, experiences CNN’s Katie Hunt.

They discovered the chemical biomarkers of seaweed and aquatic crops in 26 samples, which means that early people had been consuming—or, on the very least, chewing—these bounties from the ocean. Extra particularly, they detected purple, inexperienced and brown seaweed, in addition to pondweed and a relative of the water lily.

The outcomes point out people had been consuming aquatic crops as early because the Mesolithic interval, via the Neolithic interval and into the early Middle Ages. That timespan is critical, as archaeologists had lengthy assumed that the introduction of farming in the course of the Neolithic period meant that early people largely deserted such meals from the ocean, based on a statement from the researchers.

Moreover, aquatic crops weren’t solely a coastal menu specialty. The researchers additionally discovered proof in enamel from a website in southeast Spain situated practically 50 miles from the water.

How early people ready these aquatic crops is unclear—did they eat them uncooked or cook dinner them? Scientists additionally don’t know the way a lot of their diets consisted of aquatic crops, because the biomarkers of different forms of crops “are inclined to survive much less properly in archaeological contexts in comparison with algae,” examine co-author Stephen Buckley, an archaeologist at England’s College of York, tells CNN.

“We don’t essentially get a full image of all meals consumed, which may rely upon prevailing environmental situations,” he provides.

The workforce thinks early people could have understood the dietary advantages of seaweed and aquatic crops—simply as we do now. Nowadays, seaweed has been called a “superfood,” because of its abundance, fast development and vitamin and mineral content material.

“Seaweed is nice,” says examine co-author Karen Hardy, an archaeologist on the College of Glasgow, to New Scientist’s Chen Ly. “It’s accessible, it’s nutritious, it’s native, it’s renewable.”

It’s additionally environmentally pleasant and will assist halt human-caused local weather change by “absorbing carbon emissions, regenerating marine ecosystems, creating biofuel and renewable plastics in addition to producing marine protein,” as Time’s Mélissa Godin wrote in 2020.

The researchers hope their findings will encourage extra folks to start out including seaweed and aquatic crops to their diets.

“It will be an exquisite factor to assume that folks truly linked in and thought, ‘Nicely, if we ate it earlier than, we are able to begin consuming it once more,’” Hardy tells the Guardian’s Nicola Davis.

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