Research Highlights | Published:


Early humans cooked vegetables

Nature volume 540, page 487 (22 December 2016) | Download Citation


Image: J. Dunne et al./Nature Plants

Humans cooked and ate a variety of plants — mostly grasses and aquatic plants — as early as 8,200 years ago.

Scientists have often found signs of prehistoric meat and milk processing, but direct evidence of early plant cooking has been rare. Richard Evershed at the University of Bristol, UK, and his colleagues analysed residues from 110 ancient pottery fragments discovered in the Libyan Sahara. The pieces were found in a cave and a rock shelter, both of which also housed well-preserved plants several thousand years old (legumes of Cassia pictured). Besides animal fats, the team found plant lipids in most of the pots.

Some pots seem to have been used exclusively for fruits and seeds, but the team also uncovered evidence of leaves and stems being cooked.

Nature Plants (2016)

About this article

Publication history





    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing