Fish accounted for surprisingly large part of the Stone Age diet — ScienceDaily

New research at Lund University in Sweden can now show what Stone Age people actually ate in southern Scandinavia 10 000 years ago. The importance of fish in the diet has proven to be greater than expected. So, if you want to follow a Paleo diet — you should quite simply eat a lot of fish.

Osteologists Adam Boethius and Torbjörn Ahlström have studied the importance of various protein sources in the human diet across three millennia, from around 10 500 to 7 500 years ago. This was done by combining chemical analyses of human bones from over 80 individuals, whose skeletons are the oldest discovered in Scandinavia, with osteological analyses of animal bone material.

The study is part of a doctoral thesis that has used various methods to examine the significance of fishing for the people who settled in southern Scandinavia during the millenniums after the ice from the last ice age had melted away.

“At the Norje Sunnansund settlement, outside Sölvesborg in Sweden, you can see that just over half of the protein intake has come from fish, ten per cent from seals, and around 37 per cent from land mammals, such as wild boar and red deer, and scarcely three per cent from plants such as mushrooms, berries and nuts,” says Adam Boethius. “On the island of Gotland, which did not have any land mammals apart from hares, the percentage of fish in total protein consumption was even higher at just under 60 per cent. Here, seals have replaced the land mammals and account for almost 40 per cent of the protein intake, whereas hares and vegetables account for a negligible proportion,” he continues.

The study shows that fish was also a highly significant protein source on the Swedish west coast, but it seems that seals and dolphins were more important for the first pioneer settlers, and that after an initial focus on hunting aquatic mammals, fishing increased as a protein source.

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