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A Bronze Age lunch box found in the Swiss Alps could help archaeologists shed new light on the spread and exploitation of cereal grains.
The domestication of plants such as wheat was one of the most significant cultural and evolutionary steps of our species, experts say.
Evidence - Use - Practices
But direct evidence of their use in early culinary practices has remained frustratingly elusive, until now.
The team say the discovery of 3,500-year-old evidence of grains could help archaeologists map and trace the development of early farming in Eurasia.
Team - Archaeologists - University - York - Box
The team of archaeologists, led by the University of York, found the wooden box in an ice patch in the Lötschenpass, 8,700 feet (2,650m) above sea level, in the canton of Bern.
Analysing the container, they were expecting to find a milk residue left behind, perhaps from a porridge-type meal wolfed down by a hunter or herder.
Biomarkers - Wheat - Rye - Grain - Alkylresorcinols
Instead they discovered fat-based biomarkers for whole wheat or rye grain, called alkylresorcinols.
Plants quickly degrade in archaeological deposits, so scientists are increasingly using molecular techniques to look for their remains.
Findings - Researcher - Dr - Andre - Carlo
Speaking to MailOnline about the findings, lead researcher Dr Andre Carlo Colonese said: 'The deposit has been preserved because it was frozen in an ice patch until recently, when the ice started melting.
'It was in very good condition, as if it was left up there just a few months ago.
Development - Farming - Societies - Eurasia - Rest
'It is not only significant for the development of early farming societies in Eurasia, but for the rest of the world as we know it today.
'Thanks to the societies of the Near East that managed to transform the size, morphology and productivity of some wild grasses approximately 10,000 years ago, wheat has become one of the...
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