Culinary practices at prehistoric Tel Tsaf
It is generally accepted that these innovations or transitions had first taken place in the Near East. Among the prime laboratories in which to study these changes is Tel Tsaf, a prehistoric village about 20 miles south of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Dating to c. 5300–4700 B.C.E., this village has been archaeologically explored since the late 1970s.
The current archaeological project at Tel Tsaf, directed by Danny Rosenberg and Florian Klimscha, was launched in 2013 with that particular goal of shedding new light on the transition from simple village communities to complex societies and learning about their prehistoric diet. Reporting in their Archaeological Views column “Prehistoric Dining at Tel Tsaf” in the July/August 2018 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, the directors explain that “the transition from the Neolithic to the Chalcolithic period appears to coincide with the development of the Mediterranean-style diet. In that respect, our project strives to better understand food choices by considering environmental conditions, social and economic factors, and cultural preferences of the local population.”
Archaeologists obtain relevant data by collecting and analyzing even the least impressive archaeological evidence, including pollen, seeds, animal bones, microfauna, and other organic material. Extracting information on prehistoric diet from such fragile and minuscule finds requires application of an array of scientific methods, which include state-of-the-art bio-archaeological and material culture analyses.
To learn more about the critical transformations in human (pre-)history, the prehistoric diet, and the role of food in the transition to complex societies, read “Prehistoric Dining at Tel Tsaf” by Danny Rosenberg and Florian Klimscha in the July/August 2018 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
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