Researchers finding out exceptionally well-preserved feces present in Iron Age salt mines have found the presence of fungi utilized in meals fermentation. The findings point out the miners had been feasting on blue cheese and beer round 2,700 years in the past.
The examine, printed within the journal Present Biology, studies on a number of paleofeces samples present in a World Heritage web site in Austria generally known as the Hallstatt salt mines. The distinctive environmental situation of the mines – fixed gentle temperatures with excessive salt concentrations – are perfect for preserving the traditional poo permitting researchers invaluable insights into the weight loss program and intestine microbiome of Iron Age folks.
“Molecular and microscopic investigations revealed that the miner’s weight loss program was primarily composed of cereals, comparable to domesticated wheats (emmer and spelt), barley, widespread millets, and foxtail millets,” the researchers write within the examine. “This carbohydrate-rich weight loss program was supplemented with proteins from broad beans and infrequently with fruits, nuts, or animal merchandise.”
As a result of the Hallstatt salt mines had been persistently occupied for over two millennia researchers are afforded the distinctive alternative to review intestine microbiome modifications in human populations over lengthy intervals of time. Right here, the researchers found exceptional consistency within the miners’ weight loss program as much as the 18th century.
Maybe one of many extra notable variations between between the Iron Age miner weight loss program and their 18th century counterparts is the shape wherein cereals and legumes had been consumed. The researchers suggest the extra historical miner weight loss program consisted of consuming these grains in a kind of porridge or gruel, whereas extra just lately the miners consumed processed grains within the type of breads and biscuits.
Essentially the most shocking discovering within the examine was the invention of particular fungi DNA within the paleofeces samples. Penicillium roqueforti and Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA had been detected indicating consumption of fermented meals and drinks.
Penicillium roqueforti is particularily used within the creation of blue cheese and the examine factors out that is the earliest proof of this type of cheese manufacturing in Europe. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a yeast used to ferment alcohol and alongside the presence of a number of grains the researchers hypothesize it was used right here to make beer.
“Genome-wide evaluation signifies that each fungi had been concerned in meals fermentation and supply the primary molecular proof for blue cheese and beer consumption throughout Iron Age Europe,” says Frank Maixner, an creator on the brand new examine. “The Hallstatt miners appear to have deliberately utilized meals fermentation applied sciences with microorganisms that are nonetheless these days used within the meals business.”
The examine provides to our understandings of historic meals manufacturing, suggesting dietary practices hundreds of years in the past had been way more mature than beforehand assumed. The brand new analysis additionally demonstrates more and more subtle paleofeces microbiome evaluation strategies permitting for detailed insights into the intestine microbes of our historical ancestors.
“These outcomes shed substantial new gentle on the lifetime of the prehistoric salt miners in Hallstatt and permit an understanding of historical culinary practices normally on a complete new stage,” notes Kerstin Kowarik, one other creator on the brand new examine from the Museum of Pure Historical past Vienna. “It’s turning into more and more clear that not solely had been prehistoric culinary practices subtle, but additionally that complicated processed foodstuffs in addition to the strategy of fermentation have held a distinguished function in our early meals historical past.”
The brand new analysis was printed within the journal Present Biology.
Supply: Cell Press