Bread, beer, porridge and the invention of taste: how grinding stones have shaped human subsistence at the onset of the agriculture

Very likely, grinding tools will become a highly popular category of finds in the archaeological research over the next decade(s) and they will certainly surpass their previous status as one of many “small finds”, “ground stone industry” or “other finds”. It becomes increasingly clear how these objects, which are universal food processors and crushers, have transformed daily life, human adaptation to the environment and its manipulation and have decisively contributed to the formation of modern food habits. A world without bread, porridge, other bakery stuff or beer, legume stews, coffee or minced meat for example would be unimaginable today, but all these have to be processed with the aid of the GPT. Thus, preparation of meals can be sequenced into several actions, and trough transformation into particles food and tastes can be mixed. In Southwestern Asia, these tools are closely linked with the wide introduction of cereals and pulses into the diet; the Levantine Epipalaeolithic (Natufian, starting 12.400 cal BC) is one focal point of early use of GPT while Upper Mesopotamia’s PPN (starting with 9600 BC) is another one. One of the most important recent achievements in functional studies on GPT is the possibility to differentiate specific end products of cereals and pulses in addition to worked materials and to determinate use intensities by analyzing working techniques and wear extensions on tools with the help of experiments. This paper will present results of this specific analysis method used in several case studies from Anatolia and their impact on reconstructing the Anatolian Neolithic plant-based kitchen between diversity and regional specialization.

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