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Ancient Europeans Ate Rodents? Researchers Find Roasted Bones

Image: Ancient Europeans Ate Rodents? Researchers Find Roasted Bones

A new study shows ancient Europeans may have eaten rodents such as voles, relatives of mice. (Rudmer Zwerver/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Thursday, 20 Oct 2016 03:12 PM

A new study of archaeological finds shows ancient Europeans probably ate rodents such as voles — also called field mice — at least occasionally.

The idea that rodents may have been a food source in ancient Europe had not been considered before. “Rodents are frequently excavated from older archaeological sites in Europe, but people haven’t examined why they are there. Maybe because they are not currently a food source in Europe, no one ever thought to ask if they had been in the past,” said Jeremy Herman of the National Museums of Scotland, Sci-Tech Today reported.

When researchers looked at nearly 60,000 small mammal bones collected in Scotland, however, they found a trench had been filled with vole bones in a way that suggested they might have been discarded after eating. In addition, there were burn marks on some of the bones indicative of their being roasted, Sci-Tech Today said.

The number of vole bones found did not indicate they were a primary source of food for the people of Skara Brae, who lived there about 5,000 years ago. Most of the people were farmers who raised sheep and cattle, and they would have had crops and shellfish to eat as well.

“It could be that people ate them as a snack, or it was something they fell back on in harder times,” Herman said. There was no evidence the people ate mice.

“This is the first example of ancient people eating rodents in Europe,” Herman concluded, Sci-Tech Today reported. “But that may be because we haven’t looked hard enough previously.” The study suggested the voles were roasted whole before being eaten.

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A new study of archaeological finds shows ancient Europeans probably ate rodents such as voles — also called field mice — at least occasionally.
ancient, europeans, ate, rodents
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2016-12-20
Thursday, 20 Oct 2016 03:12 PM
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