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Ancient Butchering Procedures

Researchers uncover fascinating butchering procedures of our ancient ancestors

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A new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science has reported on some fascinating discoveries made regarding how our ancient ancestors hunted, killed and then devoured their meals around 12,000 years ago.

Detailed analyses were made following the discovery of remains at a prehistoric butchering site, called Lundy Mose, located in South Zealand, Denmark.  The analyses revealed that the hunters living in the region ate wild board, red deer, aurochs and elk.

“Due to very good conditions of bone preservation, Lundby Mose offers exceptional opportunities for detailed reconstruction of exploitation patterns, and allows a very precise picture of the different activities involved in elk exploitation,” archaeologist Charlotte Leduc of the University of Paris wrote.

The study found that hunters first cut around the elk heads and other parts of the body in order to remove the hides.  One of the hides was used as a garbage bag to throw out trimmed fat and other rubbish and this was later tossed into a nearby lake.

The next stage was to remove meat from the most easy to access parts, such as the limbs, which they then consumed immediately before butchering the remainder of the animal. However, no evidence for fire was found, suggesting that they ate the meat completely raw. 

Once the butchering was complete, and as a reward for their hard work, the hunters moved onto dessert – the highly nutritious and tasty marrow found in the centre of the bones, which they extracted by snapping the bones in half.

Many of the bones, such as the long leg bones, and the elk and deer antlers, would have been kept for making bone weapons and tools, and since the front teeth of the elks were missing, it appears these were retained for jewellery making.

The researchers believe that these butchering practices could go back as far back as 45,000 years, when Neanderthals were walking the Earth.

By April Holloway

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