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Thursday, May 11th, 2006, 11:57 AM
Prehistoric plant food of Denmark

Eva Koch

About 2,000 years after the melting of the ice, the climate grew so mild that the tundra became covered with woodland. At first, it was an open wood of pine and hazel, later on it became a dense wood of lime, oak and elm. In the period from 8,000 to 4,000 BC, the country was inhabited by the hunters and fishers of the woods and the fjords. We know quite a number of settlements from this time, and we know about the animals hunted and fished, for we find their bones and the arrow points and the fish traps used to catch them. Only the plant food leaves few traces. Most probably, it has been an important part of the daily diet, for this is the case among most of the hunters, fishers and gatherers we know from the last centuries - as long as they are not living in the extreme environment of the Arctic. In this period, the climate in Denmark was like it is today, or even warmer.
The animals of the wood and the hunting gave good stories to tell at the campfire, and prestige to the hunter and meat on special occasions. But the daily meals probably consisted of more reliable foodstuffs: Plants and fish. Hazelnuts (Corylus avelana) must have been an important source of carbohydrates and fats, particularly early in this period. But also from later settlements, there are abundant finds of nutshells, provided that the conditions are favourable for preservation of organic material.
The people of this time must have had a good knowledge of the other edible berries, leaves, roots and fruits, which the area could yield. As an example, a supply of seeds from yellow waterlily (Nuphar luteum L.) was found on the settlement of Holmegårds Mose from the middle of this period (some time between 7,000 and 6,000 BC). They had been collected and stored for later consumption.

From the last part of the old stone age, the Ertebølle period, plant material has been examined for three settlement sites, and a lot of new information has been gained. Remains of acorns were found on all three sites (the settlement in Halsskov Fjord and the two inundated settlements Møllegabet and Tybrind Vig). These remains were in a condition suggesting that techniques were known at this time for making them edible for humans. The use of acorn as a source of carbohydrates for humans is known both from North American indians and from prehistoric Japan. The foodstuff obtained from them is a kind of flour that can be cooked to gruel. Not very tasty, but nourishing - according to people, who have tasted it.

Read further (http://www.anonym.to/?http://home3.inet.tele.dk/evakoch/veg-uk.htm)