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Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

Assuming then that the neolithic


Whatever

else may be clouded with doubt, it is certain that man was so fashioned as to be compelled to eat in order to sustain life! In the beginning, instinct must have taught him that the consumption of food was the _sine qua non_ of his existence.

When was the beginning?

The Biblical chronology of events prior to the Deluge is not accepted by scientists. The students of to-day believe, and seek to prove, that the earth has existed for several million years, and has passed through many different stages; that animal life was first evolved from the "inanimate" state of matter; that man is the most highly finished creature that has as yet been attained in the ascending scale of evolution, and that he will, in the natural course of events, make place for a still more nearly perfect being.

The exact date of the first appearance of man cannot now be ascertained. Geological research has led to the assertion that he probably existed thousands of years before the time usually assigned. But if we commence our history from the last great glacial visitation we find that the conceded date of its occurrence, about 5,000 years before the birth of Christ, coincides rather closely with the date of the creation as given in the book of Genesis. Assuming then that the neolithic, or stone age followed not only the ice visitation, but the creation (to use a familiar phrase), the theory of many scientists

and the story of the Bible agree on the one, to us, essential point--the birth of the first people.

Horace, in his third satire (first book), gives his views of the first food of the human race. (At that time, six hundred years before the Christian era, it was held that man was not created in a perfectly developed form, but was engendered from beings of a different kind.) He says: "When first these creatures crawled out of the ground, dumb and foul brutes, they fought for nuts, first with nails and fists, then with sticks, and later with weapons made of metal." This coincides with the deduction made in the third paragraph, that nuts have a just claim to the title of one of the "first foods."

These savages must have suffered from exposure to the occasional inclemency of the weather. To protect themselves, they, being endowed with an ever-increasing power of reason, resorted to the skins of wild animals for covering. Failing to obtain a sufficient number from the carcasses of those which had died a natural death, they conceived the idea of destroying life in order to obtain the coveted article. They may not at first have availed themselves of anything but the outer covering, leaving the flesh to be eaten by other animals or birds, but the flesh adhering to the hide would soon become offensive from decomposition, and what is more probable than that their common sense soon directed them to remove it directly after being stripped from the slaughtered animal? The teeth of the primitive man were constantly in use for many purposes; so, in tearing off the pieces of flesh with them, may the first appetite for meat as food have been acquired.

It is difficult to determine when food was first subjected to the influence of heat; it is still more useless to attempt to explain how the properties of fire were first discovered. It is presumed that the first fire witnessed by man, was caused by the fall of a meteorite, a volcanic eruption or a lightning flash. The observation of its peculiar effects excited the still dormant inventive spirit of the neolithic, and he essayed the production of it himself. Evidence proves that he first attained his end by striking pieces of flint against iron pyrites and letting the sparks fall upon some combustible material, placed accidentally or intentionally beneath. It is easy to imagine that it was soon learned that fire would destroy human life and that the pleasing odor of the burning flesh led to the use of cooked meat as food.


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