Article

Human Evolution

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 233-242

First online:

On stone age human diet

  • G. GrupeAffiliated withInstitut für Anthropologie und Humangenetik

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Abstract

Diet is part of a larger adaptational process. In terms of evolution, effective subsistence adaptation is expected to enhance selectively the inclusive fitness of those individuals who carry them out. Especially with regard to the “neolithic revolution”, the Stone Ages in Central Europe and the Near East were a period of dietary change with a switch from a foraging to a producing subsistence strategy. Several assumptions do exist on dietary behaviour and resulting lifestyle through the Stone Ages, culminating in the suggestion that in the Neolithic, the role of energy as a limiting factor for human populations gave way to other factors like fats and proteins. Research on Stone Age human populations led to informations on very general trends, and the skeletal record is far from being complete. However, considering the available morphological and archaeometric data, there is at present to need to assume continuing tension between population numbers and food ressources. There are no indications that the neolithic subsistence was on the expense of dietary quality. Also, cost/benefit balances in terms of energy should have been met. The conclusion is the invention and introduction of agriculture being a fitness maximizing process in terms of adaptive dietary behaviour in a changing environment.

Key words

palaeodiet morphology achaeometry energy