Washington (AP) - The popular image may be of Stone Age people gnawing on a chunk of woolly mammoth, but new research indicates their diet may have been more balanced after all.
Many researchers had assumed people living in
Now, new findings indicate grains were part of the diet at ancient sites in
The team led by Anna Revedin of the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History in Florence found grinding stones, similar to a stone and pestle, with remains of grains at the sites.
The three sites were all dated to about 30,000 years ago and the residues appear to originate mainly from cattails and ferns, which are rich in starch and would have provided a good source of carbohydrates and energy.
But "a large number of plant families are likely to have been involved in the diet," the researchers said.
Peeling and grinding the roots would also have allowed people to produce a dried flour which could be stored and cooked later, to compensate for seasonal changes in food availability, the researchers said.
The remains were found at the archaeological sites of Bilancino II in the Mugello Valley of Italy; Kostenki 16 (Uglyanka), in the Pokrovsky Valley,