Ohalo II ‘proto-weeds’ indicate attempts to cultivate wild cereals 23,000 years ago

Evidence of low-level food production at Epipaleolithic site

Ohalo II is a well-studied sedentary hunter-gatherer settlement on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Associated with the Kebaran culture, the site dates to the Early Epipaleolithic period and was occupied around 23,000 years ago. The partially-excavated site is believed to cover an area of around 2,000 sq. m. (21,500 sq. ft.), and excavations have revealed the remains of six huts. Faunal remains suggest that the Ohalo II people hunted gazelle and deer, trapped hare and birds, and caught fish. From preserved botanical remains, no fewer than 142 different plant species have been identified, including emmer wheat, barley, brome and other small-grained grasses, acorns, almonds, pistachios, olives, legumes, raspberries, figs and grapes. These were collected from a range of habitats, including the nearby Mount Tabor. Continue reading

Earliest evidence of dentistry in Late Upper Palaeolithic

Stone tools used to treat dental caries 14,000 years ago

Humans have been practicing dentistry for a surprisingly long time. The earliest dental filling, made from beeswax and dating to 6,500 years ago, was reported from Slovenia in 2012 and a bow drill was apparently used to remove decay from molar teeth recovered from a 9,000-year-old Neolithic graveyard in Pakistan. The increase in carbohydrate consumption in the Neolithic was accompanied by an increase in dental caries, and a need for dentistry. The drilling, cleaning and filling dental cavities is documented in ancient Egyptian texts, which confirm that the practice was established by at least the fifth millennium BC. Continue reading