Prehistoric Skeletons Show First Sicilians Weren't Seafood Lovers

Mediterranean Sea wasn't much of a food provider for prehistoric humans

By on November 29th, 2012 12:54 GMT

A study conducted by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and published in today's issue (November 28) of the PLOS ONE journal reveals that, despite their seaside habitation, for the first Sicilians seafood was not a major dish.

Observations over skeletons dating back to over 10,000 years ago unveil a rather hunter-gatherer people. While no marks of seafood nourishment was found, there are clear indicators of people feeding themselves with animals such as deer and boar, Live Science reports.

Scientists believe that the reason for the first Sicilian settlers of the nowadays Favignana island not eating sea food might be related to the Mediterranean Sea’s well-known lack of fish.

Another reason could be the early Sicilians' lack of fishing technology, supposition that leads to the determination of a more general character of the given population.

“The fact that these hunter-gatherers did not develop sophisticated fishing technologies in response to sea-level rise suggests that the potential returns of doing so were insufficient and that their population numbers were probably low,” said Marcello Mannino, researcher of the Max Planck Institute.

The skeletons were discovered by Giovanni Mannino in 1972 in a cave called Grotta d'Oriente and are now preserved in Italian museums.

Long-time research has been conducted in order to determine their origins and lifestyle. Observations led to the conclusion that at the time they lived, Sicily wasn't totally isolated from the continent.

“It showed us that our species only reached Sicily probably around, at the earliest, about 24,000 years ago, which is the time of the last glacial maximum, a time when probably for a very short period, Sicily was actually connected to the mainland through a land bridge exposed by the fact that sea levels were lower,” Mannino explained.

The fact could partially explain why the inhabitants in these places didn't really need to explore the sea, or develop their fishing techniques.

However, other studies show that Sicilians were not unique in these terms. Other people living by the Mediterranean in the same era were dispensing themselves of seafood as well.

“In prehistory, marine resources were never really exploited intensively by humans living in the Mediterranean basin,” Mannino declared.

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