The First Clambake

Study: Early humans threw clambakes – CNN.com

Thanks to Cousin Tom for the clamming content. I need to post about middens sometime soon, clamshell trash heaps that allegedly litter the Cape Cod shoreline. College roomie John Hoopes, professor of such things at U. Kansas, may be able to shed some light from his time in Costa Rica.

“This means humans were eating seafood about 40,000 years earlier than previously thought. And this is the earliest record of humans eating something other than what they caught or gathered on the land, Marean said. Most of what Marean found were the remnants of brown mussels, but he also found black mussels, small saltwater clams, sea snails and even a barnacle that indicates whale blubber or skin was brought into the cave.

Marean figured the early people, probably women, had to trudge two to three miles to where the mussels, clams and snails were harvested and to bring them back to the cave. Then they put them over hot rocks to cook. When the food was done, the shells popped open in a process similar to modern-day mussel-steaming, but without the pot.

Marean and colleagues tried out that ancient cooking technique in a kind of archaeological test kitchen.

“We’ve prepped them the same way,” Marean said in telephone interview from South Africa. “They’re a little less moist (than modern steamed mussels). They definitely lose some moisture.””

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

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