Essay on Question 3

Submitted By joanneex4
Words: 765
Pages: 4

Question 3: Early hominid diets are able to be constructed through the change in size of body parts, isotopic ratios as well as dental records. The first main approach that archaeologists have taken to reconstruct early hominid diets is from their brain sizes, digestion and meat eating habits. The thinning of the human skull was a result of the increase in consumption of meat. The larger the brain the higher energy is needed which consuming meat provides. With the increase in brain size, it also meant early hominins increased their intelligence. They could manipulate tools more effectively resulting in a more complex foraging behaviour, which lead to a smaller gut.

The use of stable isotopes has also been a way to reconstruct early hominin diets. 4.4 million years ago Australopithecines had an ape like diet that consisted of leaves and fruit. They had a ribcage that was similar to that of apes, which suggested an herbivorous diet. A million years later 22% of the diet of Homo habilis consisted C4 grasses and sedges. Stone tools were associated with Homo habilis because it has been associated with decrease in jaw size which stone tools were replaced by some of the work done by chewing. Homo erectus/ergaster had further development in body characeristics. There was a decrease in mandible size, increase in cranial capacity, decrease in mastication muscle attatchment points and a taller and more slender body. This suggested that Homo ergaster/erectus were hunters. Their barrel shaped rib cage and a well-defined waist also suggests the diet was more focused on meat as they were easier to digest.

Evidence from starch grains and phytoliths from dental calculus is another way to reconstruct early hominid diets. Dental calculus from the Neanderthals was examined from preserved plant phytoliths and starch grains. It was found that there were significant quanitites of water liliy, and wild species of barket and wheat, and root plants were exploited. Ancient starch was also found to be heated which suggested a form of cooking was carried out. It was found that Neanderthals had consumed as many plants as we did today.

In conclusion, through the study of brain sizes, isotopic ratios and dental records we are able to reconstruct early hominid diets through careful examination.

Question 4: The impact of the origins of agriculture’s impact on human diets and sustenance had effects on human health. It also had effects on human relations as well as social transformations. An example are the pastorialists that have transformed through time.

Many early farming populations had high rates of dental caries, which increase infectious diseases, and there was also an iron deficiency. There was also reduction in jaw size, which resulted in crowding of teeth. There was also a decline in osteoarthritis and bone robusticity, which increased interpersonal injuries. These trends still persist today such as poor health and malnutrition in developing countries and poverty.

The surplus of food is also a driver of social transformations. It allows some of the population to not always be producing food and pursue other things. It contributes to the growth of