What did people on the west coast of Scandinavia eat 10,000 years ago
In the realms of ancient Scandinavian history, a groundbreaking study has shed light on the dietary habits of a small group of hunter-gatherers on the west coast, approximately 9,700 years ago. This investigation, centered around chewed resin discovered at Huseby Klev, has not only provided a snapshot of their daily life but also unraveled compelling details about their culinary choices. Interestingly, this research parallels findings in Viking dental practices, as revealed in a study by the University of Gothenburg, showing advanced dental care in early Scandinavian societies. Read more about Viking dentistry.
Mesolithic Lifestyle: Fishing, Hunting, and Foraging
The Huseby Klev site, situated on the picturesque island of Orust, witnessed a vibrant community engaged in diverse activities. Through meticulous excavation, evidence surfaced of fishing, hunting, and resource collection for sustenance. The study’s findings point to a diet rich in deer, trout, and hazelnuts, offering a glimpse into the dietary preferences that sustained this ancient community.
The Role of Chewing Gum: A Unique Insight
One of the most intriguing aspects of this research is the analysis of chewed resin, akin to a Mesolithic chewing gum, discovered alongside stone tools. The resin not only preserved DNA sequences but also unveiled a tapestry of bacteria linked to periodontitis. The act of chewing resin itself, undertaken by teenagers, was a prelude to crafting glue, following their consumption of trout, deer, and hazelnuts.
Metagenomic Exploration: Computational Challenges
Dr. Emrah Kırdök, leading the metagenomic work at Mersin University, and Dr. Andrés Aravena from Stockholm University‘s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics faced computational challenges in unraveling the diverse mix of DNA within the ancient chewing gum. Their innovative approach involved adapting analytical tools to ancient DNA, pushing the boundaries of metagenomics on material of this nature.
Insights from DNA Analysis
The metagenomic analysis uncovered a plethora of information, identifying various species present in the Mesolithic chewing gum. Professor Anders Götherström, heading the project at the Centre for Palaeogenetics, emphasized the significance of this data, describing it as a “snapshot” of the hunter-gatherers’ life on the Scandinavian west coast.
Conclusion: A Window into Ancient Scandinavia
In conclusion, this study provides an unparalleled window into the culinary choices and challenges faced by a Mesolithic community on the west coast of Scandinavia. The combination of fishing, hunting, and foraging for deer, trout, and hazelnuts paints a vivid picture of their daily sustenance, while the metagenomic analysis of chewed resin adds a unique layer of understanding to their oral health and lifestyle.
Diagram: Mesolithic Culinary Snapshot
This comprehensive exploration of the Mesolithic diet not only enriches our historical understanding but serves as a valuable resource for enthusiasts, researchers, and those seeking a deeper connection with the culinary past of Scandinavia.
- Science Daily Ancient ‘chewing gum’ reveals stone age diet January 18, 2024;
- Scientific reports – Metagenomic analysis of Mesolithic chewed pitch reveals poor oral health among stone age individuals January 18, 2024.