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Ancestral Appetites: Food in Prehistory

Kristen J. Gremillion
New York : Cambridge University Press, 2011, ©2011.
9780521898423 (hardback), 0521898420 (hardback), 9780521727075 (paperback), 0521727073 (paperback)
This book explores the relationship between prehistoric people and their food including what they ate, why they ate it, and how researchers have pieced together the story of past foodways from material traces. Contemporary human food traditions encompass a seemingly infinite variety, but all are essentially strategies for meeting basic nutritional needs developed over millions of years. Humans are designed by evolution to adjust our feeding behavior and food technology to meet the demands of a wide range of environments through a combination of social and experiential learning. In this book, the author demonstrates how these evolutionary processes have shaped the diversification of human diet over several million years of prehistory. She draws on evidence extracted from the material remains that provide the only direct evidence of how people procured, prepared, presented, and consumed food in prehistoric times.
  • Ancestors. Our ancient heritage ; Our unique heritage
  • Beginnings. The Australopithecines and their kin ; Man the hunter, woman the gatherer ; Bones, butchery, and the scavenging hypothesis ; A closer look at the fossil record ; History in the body: evolutionary anatomy and molecular markers ; Cooking
  • Foraging. The Upper Paleolithic revolution? ; The Late Pleistocene world ; New tools, new tactics: the food quest in the Late Pleistocene
  • Farmers. The questions ; The natural history of agriculture ; The human factor : decisions and revisions ; Better living through chemistry ; Agriculture, adaptation, strategy, and tradition
  • Hunger. Food supply in a changing environment ; Hunger in nature ; Hunger and human societies ; Fighting hunger: culture and creativity
  • Abundance. Abundance in nature ; Surplus, sharing, and human societies ; The uses of abundance ; Abundance, diet, and health: the effects of social inequality ; Beyond storage and sharing: surplus as symbol
  • Contacts. Acceptance and dispersal of novel foods ; The spread of agriculture in prehistoric Europe ; Eating, drinking, and Roman expansion ; Peaches, cowpeas, melons, and hogs: old world foods in Southeastern North America ; The global reach of foodways
  • Extinctions. Man versus mammoth ; Invasion of the island snatchers ; Firestarters ; Chewing the scenery
  • Final thoughts. Nostalgia for the Pleistocene ; Hunger on a crowded planet ; The conservation conundrum ; Food, prehistory, and human nature.
xiii, 182 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Includes bibliographical references(pages 161-175) and index.
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