SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS TO PART ONE

Developments in food technology during the Prehistoric period went, almost literally, hand in hand with the evolution of man. Efficient processing tools were not possible before man had the manual dexterity to manipulate them, and the food processes themselves were inconceivable until man possessed the intellectual capacity to conceptualize them and to plan ahead. The first development came only with the appearance of Homo habilis, or possibly Australopethicus gahri, at ca. 2.5 mya, while the second finds its greatest practitioner in Hotno sapiens sapiens nearly 2.4 million years later. In between lay a long, slow process.

Two major advances: butchery tools

Between the invention of stone tools, most likely by H. habilis, and the appearance of H. sapiens sapiens in ca. 100,000 B. P. one can only point to two major advances in food technology. First is the use of stone tools to butcher meat. Australopithecine diet was probably overwhelmingly vegetarian, perhaps subsidized by insects, grubs, small animals, and the like. What tools were used were no more than what modern chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys employ in the wild. Stone tools, however, gave man the capability of extending his diet to include meat, at first scavenged and later hunted. Their use made processing more efficient and more rapid in face of dangers from carnivores and other competitors. The sharp flakes facilitated the process of quickly removing the meat from the bone for immediate consumption or transport, while the cores enabled him to break the bones to extract the marrow. Butchery was further improved at ca. 1.6 mya with the invention by H. erectus of the hand axe and by Neanderthal man of the more efficient Mousterian tools.

Fire

The making and control of fire, the second advance in food technology, may have appeared as early as 1.6 mya in South Africa. Its use in cooking food probably occurred no earlier than ca. 500,000 B. P. in China and most likely not before the appearance of hearths in Mousterian contexts in Europe. Whether any of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic toolkits and fire were used to process plant foods is unknown, though it is prima facie likely. At the end of the Middle Paleolithic, therefore, it remains difficult to speak of food technology in any meaningful sense. It is clear, however, that the prerequisites for technical advancement in the processing and preparation of food were being laid and that these advances in food technology were inextricably linked with the pace of human evolution.1 That pace quickened significantly in the Late Paleolithic.

1 Richard G. Milo, in a recent study of Middle Stone Age finds in the Klasies River Mouth of
South Africa, suggests that hominids in this area were skilled hunters who wielded composite

-81-

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Ancient Food Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sorori i
  • Technology and Change in History iv
  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Abbreviations xi
  • List of Figures xiii
  • List of Plates xv
  • List of Maps xvii
  • Acknowledgements xix
  • Foreword xxiii
  • Part One - Prehistory 1
  • Chapter One - The Lower and Middle Paleolithic Periods 3
  • Chapter Two - Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods 35
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part One 81
  • Part Two - Egypt and the Near East 91
  • Chapter Three - Egypt I 93
  • Chapter Four - Egypt II 142
  • Chapter Five - The Ancient Near East 178
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Two 243
  • Part Three - Mediterranean Civilizations 257
  • Chapter Six - The Greek World: Bronze Age Through the Hellenistic Period 259
  • Chapter Seven - Roman World I 323
  • Chapter Eight - Attack on the United States 395
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Three 420
  • Select Bibliography 435
  • I. Geographical Index 467
  • Ii. General Index 471
  • Plates 479
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