Research press release


Scientific Reports

Archaeology: Ceramic cooking pots record history of ancient food practices

遺跡から出土した陶器製の調理鍋の3つの要素(炭化した内容物の残骸、内部表面上の残渣、陶器の壁面に吸収された脂質)を分析することは、考古学者たちが、古代文明で用いられた料理の習慣を時系列で詳しく明らかにするのに役立つ可能性がある。この知見は、1年間の調理実験によって得られたもので、今週、Scientific Reports で発表される。

Melanie Miller、Helen Whelton、Jillian Swiftが率いる7人の考古学者チームは、1年間にわたって週1回の頻度で、素焼きの陶器製の調理鍋で同じ食材を繰り返し調理した後、最終回の調理だけレシピを変える実験を行い、調理鍋の残渣が、最終回の調理によるものなのか、調理鍋が使用された期間中の調理の蓄積を表しているのかを調べた。レシピには小麦、トウモロコシ、鹿肉などの食材が含まれていた。



Analysing three components of ceramic cooking pots ― charred remains, inner surface residues and lipids absorbed within the ceramic walls ― may help archaeologists uncover detailed timelines of culinary cooking practices used by ancient civilizations. The findings, from a year-long cooking experiment, are published this week in Scientific Reports.

Led by scientists Melanie Miller, Helen Whelton and Jillian Swift, a team of seven archaeologists repetitively cooked the same ingredients in unglazed ceramic pots once per week over the course of one year, then changed recipes for the final cooking event to study whether remaining residues may represent the last meal cooked or an accumulation of cooking events over the total amount of time a vessel has been used. Recipes included ingredients such as wheat, maize and venison.

Chemical analysis of the carbon and nitrogen isotopic values of residues present in the ceramic pots, contributed by carbohydrates, lipids and proteins from the meals cooked, suggest that the remains of burnt food left within each vessel represent the final ingredients and change with each meal. The chemical composition of the thin residue layer formed on the inside surface of the cooking pot and in most direct contact with the food when cooking represents a mixture of previous meals, but most closely resembles that of the final meal. Further analysis also suggests that lipids are absorbed into the walls of the ceramic vessel over a number of cooking events and are not immediately replaced by the new recipes but are instead slowly replaced over time, representing a mixture of the ingredients cooked over the total amount of time the vessel was in use.

Analysis of all three residues reveal cooking events across different time scales for ceramic vessels and may enable archaeologists to better understand the various resources used by ancient cultures and to estimate the lifespan of pottery used in meal preparation.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-70109-8


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