A study done at Elettra reveals that starches were present in the diet of steppe sapiens 40,000 years ago

A study published in Scientific Reports on 7 December 2023, the result of a collaboration between Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and Ca' Foscari University of Venice, has shed new light on the most remote past of Homo sapiens.
Thanks to synchrotron radiation and analyses carried out on the SISSI-bio beamline, it has been possible to identify and characterize some starch particles deposited on stone artefacts made by sapiens around 36,000 years ago.
The researchers knew that the particles were biological in nature, but it was not clear whether they were really ancient or due to modern contamination. FTIR spectroscopy with synchrotron light, combined with traditional imaging methods, revealed signs of mineralization and hydrolysis.
"This was the final hint that confirmed the ancient origin of the particles," says Giovanni Birarda, researcher at the SISSI beamline and first author of the study. "Then, comparing them with modern references, we were able to associate these particles to roots from plants growing in that specific geographical area."
For Elettra, Chiaramaria Stani, Nicola Cefarin and Lisa Vaccari also participated in the work.
The paper is available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-46970-8
The Ca' Foscari press release: https://www.unive.it/pag/16580/
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 December 2023 14:04