University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Biological Anthropology Seminar Series > Use of grass seed resources c. 31 ka by modern humans at the Haua Fteah cave, northeast Libya

Use of grass seed resources c. 31 ka by modern humans at the Haua Fteah cave, northeast Libya

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The recovery of a seed grinding stone from human occupation layers dating to c.31 ka in the Haua Fteah cave on the coast of the Gebel Akhdar massif in northeast Libya sheds new light on the subsistence practices of modern humans in North Africa. Residue analysis recovered a total of 15 starch granules that we have identified as belonging to wild cereals, ten of which are identified as A-type granules of Aegilops spp. (goat grass). Usewear analysis has confirmed the use of the tool as a seed grinder. These findings suggest that the diet of modern humans in the Gebel Akhdar, a region considered a likely refugium during the increasingly cool and drier climates of MIS 3 , included low-ranked but ubiquitous grass seeds. Alongside the macroplant remains and residue study of the grinding stone from Hut 1 at Ohalo II, these results are some of the clearest evidence for the processing of grass seeds during the Late Stone Age/Upper Palaeolithic. This study also adds to an increasing body of evidence regarding the processing and consumption of grasses by AMH and Neanderthals. Usewear and residue studies of grinding and pounding technology in southern Europe and Australia, indicate that seed grinding should be recognised as well within the behavioural repertoire of modern humans during the Late Pleistocene.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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