It seems that prehistoric humans hunted tortoises for food and that actually happened more often than believed. While today we might have such things as mock turtle soup, it’s not precisely made out of real tortoise. It should also be mentioned that several species are protected these days, and there are only a few nations who still indulge in such meals.
Japan, for example, is among them.
However, earlier man seemed to make a habit out of having a few tortoise meals here and there. Researchers made an excavation in the Qesem Cave in Tel Aviv that uncovered the culinary fact. The cave was discovered relatively recently, back in 2000 by the construction crew working on the highway with the same name. The site instantly become a great point of interest to archaeologists and other scientists who wanted to find knowledge on early man.
The cave also has several levels, which Israeli, Spanish, and German researchers went to explore. They found traces of human remains along with signs of clear homes made between 200,000 to 400,000 years ago. It became rather clear that old hunter-gatherers resided in those caves in the Lower Late Paleolithic Period. And, as expected, they found bones of deer and other types of large animals. However, they also found a surprisingly amount of turtle bones.
The shells were scorched and bared signs of purposefully made damage, along with scratches from flint knives. It drew the conclusion that the slow-moving reptiles had actually been hunted and cooked. The meat was stripped from the shells and roasted over the fire to offer the hunters a hefty meal of much needed protein. And it wasn’t a rare occurrence either. According to the researchers, they found such remains across all levels of the Qesem Cave.
Ran Barkai, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, stated that most experts assumed that humans were interested in larger game, such as deer. While that may be true, it’s also clear that they were also interested in smaller prey, such as turtles There were numerous advantages in finding such animals. For one, they were slow and much easy to catch. This was especially helpful in the case of old hunters, who no longer had the strength to battle larger animals.
Secondly, turtles could have also been hunted as a dietary variation.
In fact, prehistoric humans seemed to have kept themselves to a good nutrition, mixing green vegetables and meats very efficiently. While they certainly didn’t have any guidelines or recommendations, they kept themselves to a healthy and balanced diet. With a tortoise here and then.
Image source: blognostics.net