Siberian Hunters Cooked in ‘Hot Pots’ at the End of the Last Ice Age

By Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com

The world’s oldest pieces of clay pottery, recovered from the banks of the Amur River during the 1970s and ‘80s, date to the tail end of the last ice age—a tough time to live in Siberia, where the 28 ceramic shards were found.

Now, a new chemical analysis of these 12,000- to 16,000-year-old artifacts suggests the Russian Far East’s residents navigated the harsh climate with the help of ancient “hot pots,” defined by Atlas Obscura’s Matthew Taub as “heat-resistant ceramics that preserved precious nutrients and warmth.”

A new analysis of 12,000- to 16,000-year-old pottery fragments suggests ancient Siberians navigated the harsh ice age climate with the help of “hot pots.” (Yanshina Oksana)

By analyzing the millennia-old leftover fats baked into the pottery, researchers at the University of York in England were able to identify differences between the diets of two ancient Russian cultures.

The Gromatukha, who lived near the Middle Amur and the west bank of the Zeya River, mainly cooked land animals, while the Osipovka, who lived near the Lower Amur, preferred fish, reports the team in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

The new Osipovka findings build on a previous theory about how the ancient community lived, archaeologist Vitaly Medvedev, study co-author, and a member …

 

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