Scientists analyzed the culinary choices of the Stonehenge builders during the 25th century B.C., and found they loved a good barbecue-style roast.
The research team performed chemical analyses on ancient pottery and animal bones collected around the Late Neolithic Durrington Walls site, which is believed to have been the place of residence for Stonehenge builders, the University of York reported. The findings suggest the pots once held cooked animal products such as chicken, beef, pork, and dairy. On the other hand, pots found in ceremonial areas were found to have primarily held dairy. These findings suggest dairy products such as milk and cheese were either seen as exclusive foods that were only available to select individuals, or represented as purity in ceremonious rituals.
"The special placing of milk pots at the larger ceremonial buildings reveals that certain products had a ritual significance beyond that of nutrition alone. The sharing of food had religious as well as social connotations for promoting unity among Britain's scattered farming communities in prehistory," said Mike Parker Pearson, Professor at University College London and Director of the Feeding Stonehenge project.
The lack of evidence of plant consumption and prevalent traces of animals products suggests the ancient people were mainly carnivores, and especially loved to eat pigs. Burn patterns on the animal bones suggest the main methods of cooking this meat included boiling and roasting in pots as well as large outdoor barbecue-style roasting. The pigs appeared to have often been slaughtered before they reached their maximum weight, which indicates planned autumn and winter slaughtering and feasting-like consumption.
"Evidence of food-sharing and activity-zoning at Durrington Walls shows a greater degree of culinary organisation than was expected for this period of British prehistory. The inhabitants and many visitors to this site possessed a shared understanding of how foods should be prepared, consumed and disposed. This, together with evidence of feasting, suggests Durrington Walls was a well-organized working community," Oliver Craig, Reader in Archaeological Science at the University of York and lead author on the paper.