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25 November 2015
Escargots were not invented by the French

You may think that France developed the culinary delight that is escargot but recent finds in North Africa could dispel that myth. A combined team of archaeologists from Liverpool John Moores University, Queen's University Belfast and the University of Cambridge (UK) have been carrying out investigations in the Haua Fteah Cave complex near the coast of North east Libya.
     Previous excavations had put the first occupation of the cave at approximately 80,000 BCE but these new discoveries pushes that back further to 150,000 BCE. What they found were the shells of large molluscs which they dated by radiocarbon dating process.
     Whilst that is not remarkable in itself, what was of interest was that each shell had been pierced by a sharp object. The conjecture is that the early humans pierced the shell to release the vacuum so that the mollusc relinquished its grip on whatever it was clinging to, allowing the soft interior to be sucked out.
     Dr Chris Hunt, from Liverpool John Moores University, is quoted as saying "These people certainly ate a lot of snails, but they also ate plant foods including pine nuts, wild fruits and seeds of wild plants and animals, including Barbary sheep, tortoises and antelopes. We think people were pretty short of food around 10,000 years ago that they had to gather even really small snails. Small shells are rather difficult to gather and you don't get much food value from them, so people only do it when they are desperate". He went on to say "The snails in the oldest part of the cave sequence are pretty unusual because archaeologists have not reported evidence like this before, at this time".

Edited from Mail Online (19 October 2015)

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