Found the world's first "kitchen": they fried fish there 780,000 years ago

An international team of researchers analyzed the remains of a carp-like fish found on

archaeological site of Gesher Benot Yaakov inIsrael. The analysis showed that it was cooked on fire about 780 thousand years ago. So far, the earliest evidence of food preparation dates back to around 170,000 BC.

In their work, scientists analyzed the pharyngealteeth used for grinding solid food and belonging to fish from the cyprinid family. Similar remains have been found in large numbers in different archaeological layers at the site. By studying the structure of the crystals that form tooth enamel and expand when exposed to heat, the researchers were able to prove that the fish were exposed to temperatures suitable for cooking, and not just burned out from a wildfire.

Fossilized remains of the teeth of an ancient fish. Images: Tel-Aviv University

The authors of the study note that a largethe amount of fish remains found at this site proves their frequent eating by ancient people who developed special cooking methods.

This study demonstrates the great importancefish in the lives of prehistoric people, for their diet and economic stability. In addition, by studying the fish remains found at Gesher Benot Yacob, for the first time, we were able to reconstruct the fish population of the ancient Hula Lake and show that fish species lived in the lake that eventually became extinct. Among these species were giant barbs (cyprinids), reaching up to two meters in length.

Irit Zohar, Research Fellow at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University and participant in the study

The transition from raw to cooked fooddramatic implications for human development and behavior, the scientists add. Cooking reduces the body's energy needed to break down and digest food, allowing other physical systems to develop. This also leads to changes in the structure of the jaw and skull of a person.

The change in diet has freed people fromdaily intense work of finding and digesting raw food, giving them free time to develop new social and behavioral systems. Some scientists see eating fish as an important stage in the evolution of human cognition, which has become a central catalyst for the development of the human brain.

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Cover image: Tel-Aviv University