The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Sunday, May 28, 2017


According to study, prehistoric cannibals didn't just eat each other for the calories
Research undertaken by Dr James Cole, University of Brighton, has quantified the calorific value of the human body to shed more light on the habits of our ancient human ancestors, some of whom were cannibals.

by Marlowe Hood


PARIS (AFP).- When early humans, including our species, ate their own kind it was more likely for ritual purposes than for a nourishing meal, according to an unusual study released Thursday.

Carving up the human body to calculate the caloric value of each part, the study argues that prehistoric cannibalism -- while less rare than widely assumed -- was a dangerous undertaking offering relatively meagre nutritional rewards.

Kilo for kilo, a wild horse, bear or boar had more than three times the calories in fat and protein than our lean-and-mean human ancestors, who were mostly skin, muscle and bone, according to the research, published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Moreover, human prey -- as wily as the hunter -- would surely put up a good fight before being sliced up into filets.

"I did the study because I wanted to know how nutritional we are compared to these other animals," explained James Cole, a senior lecturer in archaeology at the University of Brighton in England.

"That might tell us whether we, and other human species, were doing it for the calories, or if there is some other explanation," he told AFP.

The findings help flesh out the idea that cannibalism among homo sapiens -- as well as Neanderthals, homo erectus and other hominins -- was suffused with cultural meaning.

Recent scholarship suggests our ancestors, including Neanderthals, had rich cultures, evidenced by artifacts, jewellery and perhaps language.

"It seems unreasonable to think that early humans wouldn't have had as complex an attitude to cannibalism as we modern humans," Cole said.

"They may have had as many reasons to consume each other as we do."
"It's not just about the meat," he added.

Sucking the marrow from a leg bone or gnawing on a spleen might have been a way to affirm territorial control and pay homage to deceased family members, Cole said.

"The consumption of the food in that scenario is a kind of bonus," he pointed out.

More broadly, the study suggests that our cave- or savannah-dwelling cousins were probably far more sophisticated than we suspect.

'Brain matter'
A review of the fossil record, along with recent genetic research, shows that cannibalism among hominin species, or early man, was fairly common.

"We don't have a lot of human remains," Cole said. "But even within that small sample, we still see quite a lot of evidence of human modification on those remains -- butchery, cut marks on the bone -- consistent with cannibalism."

Bones with cut marks at the tendon joints to remove filets of muscle; long arm and leg bones that have been cracked to access the marrow; human teeth marks -- all are telltale signs of humans feasting on humans.

The earliest confirmed case of human cannibalism -- found in a cave in Spain -- features the species homo antecessor and dates back nearly one million years.

Other research has shown that prehistoric humans developed some immunity to diseases, known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), that are spread by eating infected brain matter.

"The only reason an evolutionary adaptation would develop is if you are over-exposed to the pathogens," Cole said.

That could have arisen when a human ate, say, a lion that had consumed a bovine brain.

The human variant of mad cow disease that erupted in the 1990s spread when people ate beef from cows that had been fed the brains of infected animals.

"Or it comes from eating the brain matter of members of our own species," as is thought to have occurred with the Fore people of Papua New Guinea, who practiced cannibalism.

A wide range of motivations are used to explain modern-day cannibalism, ranging from psychosis (think of the liver-and-fava-bean loving Hannibal Lecter), to warfare, medicine or funerary ritual. Shipwreck and plane crashes can also lead to survival cannibalism.

But for early humans, Cole said, that complexity has been unjustifiably boiled down to "nutritional" versus "ritual", with the added presumption that food is usually the main motive.


© Agence France-Presse






Today's News

April 11, 2017

According to study, prehistoric cannibals didn't just eat each other for the calories

Geneva Magnificent Jewels led by La Légende

Sotheby's to offer the most valuable earrings ever to appear at auction

Sotheby's to offer Roy Lichtenstein's Nude Sunbathing

Nolan painting acquired by Australian War Memorial

Julien's Auctions announces Spring Street Art and Contemporary Art Auction

Exhibition shows, for the first time, a forgotten member of De Stijl that returned to Realism

Historic San Francisco panorama leads Bonhams Photography Sale in New York

Phillips announces Auction of Exceptional Jewels and Jadeite in Hong Kong

John Baldessari: Paintings 1966-68 exhibited at Craig F. Starr Gallery

National Postal Museum opens exhibition commemorating the centennial of First World War

Solo exhibition of new works by artist Entang Wiharso on view at Marc Straus

Newly discovered painting and new film add to the resurgence of Nova Scotia Folk Art icon Maud Lewis

Camden Arts Centre opens first major retrospective of 91-year-old Romanian artist Geta Brătescu in London

Vancouver Art Gallery acquires works by Rodney Graham, Susan Point, Skeena Reece, and Stephen Waddell

Gary Grealy wins National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

Abbot Hall Art Gallery presents over 30 monumental paintings by Julian Cooper

Blanton presents first touring museum exhibition of works by Nina Katchadourian

Circus arts help Syrian children make new life

New York harnesses future with passion for the past

Beijing hutongs: Village life in the city

Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions to include decorative arts and contents of Brightley House

June Kelly Gallery opens exhibition of work by Julio Valdez

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Art community remains divided over Caravaggio found in French attic

2.- Stedelijk Museum presents a snapshot of Rineke Dijkstra's photographic and video work

3.- Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens mourns death of Dina Merrill

4.- Exhibition of new paintings by Gerhard Richter opens at Albertinum in Dresden

5.- 18th-century French paintings from across America on view at National Gallery of Art

6.- Major retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg opens at the Museum of Modern Art

7.- Canaletto exhibition reunites two of the Venetian master's greatest series of paintings

8.- King Tutankhamun's bed, chariot paraded through Cairo to new home

9.- Junk sale diamond ring bought for £10 worth a fortune

10.- Exhibition sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century: What will we eat in the future?



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful