Were Neanderthals the first hipsters? 70,000-year-old wild pistachio flatbread discovered in Iraq – Scotsman comment

Somewhere, lost in the mists of the 1990s, there emerged into the world a new lifestyle phenomenon with the advent of the first hipster. Or so we thought.

Neanderthals had a sophisticated food culture, not unlike hipsters (Picture: Sebastian Willnow/DDP/AFP via Getty Images)
Neanderthals had a sophisticated food culture, not unlike hipsters (Picture: Sebastian Willnow/DDP/AFP via Getty Images)

However, after journeying to a remote cave some 500 miles north of Baghdad, scientists have discovered evidence that suggests – at least in culinary terms – that the movement may be much, much older. Analysis of the charred remains of food cooked about 70,000 years ago at the Shanidar Cave site has revealed the world’s oldest known flatbreads were baked there on hot stones, and not by Homo sapiens, but rather our Neanderthal cousins.

Admittedly, flatbread – any self-respecting hipster’s preferred term for what others might call pizza – has been widely cooked all over the world and not just by hipsters. However, this was not just ordinary fare, with the scientists explaining that it was flavoured with "wild pistachios”, “wild lentils” and grass seeds. We feel sure that these were locally sourced ingredients and the resulting flatbreads were most definitely “small batch”.

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One researcher, Chris Hunt, a professor of cultural paleoecology at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “The old stereotype is that Neanderthals were less intelligent than modern humans and that they had a largely meat-based diet. Our findings are the first real indication of complex cooking – and thus of food culture – amongst Neanderthals.”

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Judging by facial reconstructions, male Neanderthals also appear to have been quite fond of facial hair. Who knows, with their genes said to live on in modern humans, perhaps modern-day hipsters were actually reconnecting with something deep within their inner being, an ancient taste rediscovered and refreshed.

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