A 32,000-year-old stone that was used in order to grind seeds was found inside a cave called Grotta Paglicci, Italy, scientists say.
The stone that was recovered from the cave in Italy, was used by the palaeolithic people of the Gravettian culture, who also made astonishing cave paintings and left behind other tools made out of stone.
Marta Mariotti Lippi, a professor who teaches botany at the University of Florence in Italy, said that the pale brown stone which was used as a grinder, shows us that palaeolithic people used to process their food before eating it.
The discovery of the stone is in fact not new. Researchers found the stone in 1989, but because they lacked today’s modern technology they could not find the same evidence that current researchers have found.
When the researchers washed the stone using a light stream of water, they saw that the water stared filling with a large amount for starch granules. According to Mariotti Lippi, there were five different types of granules of which the oat seeds were the most abundant.
Researchers were startled to find out that the starch grains looked coagulated. That usually occurs when the grains are heated prior to the grinding process. There is a possibility that the seeds were dried using the heat from the fire in order to make them easier to grind and digest, speculates Mariotti Lippi.
Professor John Steph at the University of Michigan, has come up with a different idea. According to him, the palaeolithic people could have used the same stone first as a grinder and then as a type of hot coal. Given the fact that the grain leftovers would have still been attached to it that could explain why the seeds appeared to be cooked. Steph says that other palaeolithic people used heated stones and threw them into the water in order to boil it.
John Steph also agrees with Mariotti Lippi’s theory that the stone was used in order to grind the seeds and turn them into flour, thus making them a lot easier to consume. Ground flour was also easier to transport and it lasted longer, explained Lippi.
Presumably the Paglicci people mixed the flour with water and then ate it, said Lippi.
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