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Remains of seven types of edible nuts and nutcrackers found at 780,000-year-old archaeological site

*This release has been modified since the original posting(Feb.18th).

Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University Researchers find evidence showing nuts formed a major part of mans diet 780,000 years ago

Jerusalem, February 17, 2002 The remains of seven types of 780,000-year-old nuts have been found at the Gesher Benot Yaaqov site in Israels Hula Valley. The nuts and the stone tools found with them are the first evidence that various types of nuts formed a major parts of mans diet 780,000 years ago and that hominins (prehistoric men) had developed an assortment of tools to crack open nuts during the Early-Middle Pleistocene Period, according to researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University, who explained that the nuts were anaerobically preserved because the site has been waterlogged since its destruction.

Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar and PhD candidate Gonen Sharon, of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, and Prof. Mordechai Kislev and PhD candidate Yoel Melamed of the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Life Sciences, outline the conclusions that can be drawn from these findings about life in the Hula Valley three-quarters of a million years ago in an article that will be printed in the prestigious journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA) on February 19.

Seven species of edible fruits covered with a hard shell were found at the site: wild almond; prickly water lily; acorns from the Q. calliprinos evergreen and the Mt. Tabor oak; Atlantic pistachio; pistachio; and water chestnut. Most of them only can be cracked open by a hard hammer. They all have a high nutritional value and no doubt played a key role in the diet of the hominins at Gesher Benot Yaaqov. (The pistachios and water chestnuts found at the site are similar to those available today in the Far East and northern Europe.)

Ethnographic studies of the contemporary hunter-gatherer population sh
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Contact: Heidi J. Gleit
heidig@savion.cc.huji.ac.il
972-6-445-4593
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
18-Feb-2002


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