Scientists now know beans about the Neolithic diet

Scientists now know beans about the Neolithic diet

Life may have been tough ten thousand years ago, but we’ll never know for sure: We have no diaries from that Neolithic era, since writing hadn’t been invented yet.

One thing we now know about those prehistoric humans, however: Like us, they ate their hummus.

At least, those in the Galilee did.

This conclusion was reached after fava seeds were discovered during an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority, showing that prehistoric people living in the southern Near East some 10,000 years ago preferred a diet of legumes. The joint IAA-Weizmann Institute research project, which examined fava seeds unearthed in recent years at archaeological sites in the Galilee dating to the Neolithic period, sheds light on the eating habits of the prehistoric people who lived nearby.

We judge the age of contemporary hummus by checking the expiration date on the accumulated containers in our refrigerators. The Israeli archaeologists had a trickier task. But using their advanced methods, they were able to determine the exact age of the fava beans they examined, enabling them to conclude they had found the world’s oldest domesticated fava seeds. The seeds, researchers say, teach us that the diet of the indigenous people at the time comprised primarily fava beans, chickpeas, lentils, and other types of peas.

On the whole, it sounds delicious. But wow, those Neolithic humans must have been been overjoyed when they invented tahini for a touch of variety.


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