People hunted and shared meat differently 200,000 years ago

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Washington, October 15 (ANI): New finds unearthed at Qesem Cave in Israel suggest that during the late Lower Paleolithic period, between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago, people hunted and shared meat differently than they did in later times.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University and the University of Arizona are analyzing the new archaeological evidence.

Their research is providing new clues about how, where and when our communal habits of butchering meat developed, and they're changing the way anthropologists, zoologists and archaeologists think about our evolutionary development, economics and social behaviors through the millennia.

The findings indicate that instead of a prey's carcass being prepared by just one or two persons resulting in clear and repeated cutting marks - the forefathers of the modern butcher - cut marks on ancient animal bones suggest something else.

"The cut marks we are finding are both more abundant and more randomly oriented than those observed in later times, such as the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods," said Professor Avi Gopher of TAU's Department of Archaeology.

"What this could mean is that either one person from the clan butchered the group's meat in a few episodes over time, or multiple persons hacked away at it in tandem," he added.

"This finding provides clues as to social organization and structures in these early groups of hunters and gatherers," he said.

Among human hunters in the past 200,000 years, from southern Africa to upstate New York or sub-arctic Canada, "there are distinctive patterns of how people hunt, who owns the products of the hunt, how carcasses are butchered and shared," Prof. Gopher said.

"The rules of sharing are one of the basic organizing principles of hunter-gatherer cultures. From 200,000 years ago to the present day, the patterns of meat-sharing and butchering run in a long clear line. But in the Qesem Cave, something different was happening," he said.

"There was a distinct shift about 200,000 years ago, and archaeologists and anthropologists may have to reinterpret hunting and meat-sharing rituals," he added.

Meat-sharing practices can tell present-day archaeologists about who was in a camp, how people dealt with danger and how societies were organized, according to Prof. Gopher.

The Qesem Cave finds demonstrate that man was at the top of the food chain during this period, but that they shared the meat differently than their later cousins. (ANI)

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