Cannibalism in antiquity: why it is not profitable for people to eat their own kind

(ORDO NEWS) — In 2017, British scientists found that it was unprofitable for ancient people to hunt and eat their own kind, and cannibalism was mostly ritual in nature.

People are rightfully considered the most dangerous prey in the animal kingdom, but you definitely can’t call them the most nutritious, although human meat is very high in calories.

The latest study, based on the calculation of the number of calories in the body of an ordinary person, proves that human eating of their own kind was mainly ritual, and not for the sake of satiety – at least among hominids, including Homo erectus, H. antecessor, Neanderthals and modern people.

To find out how many calories an average-weight body contains, the researchers turned to other studies conducted from 1945 to 1956, which contained a description of the detailed chemical composition of four adult men who bequeathed their bodies to science.

It turned out that the average adult male contains 125,822 calories (mainly due to fat and protein), which is enough to meet the daily nutritional requirement for 60 people. It is worth noting that, of course, fats are the most high-calorie (49,399 calories), but the least calorie part of the human body is teeth (36 calories in total).

These numbers represent a lower limit, since Neanderthals and some other extinct hominins seem to have had more muscle mass and needed more food.

Cannibalism in antiquity why it is not profitable for people to eat their own kind 2

Be that as it may, in comparison with other animals that made up the diet of ancient people, eating their own kind was unprofitable and too dangerous.

The mammoth on average provided the tribe with 3,600,000 calories, the woolly rhinoceros – 1,260,000, and the bison – 979,200, and it was much easier to catch them, and the horn and skins went for household needs, the researchers conclude. The results of their analysis were published in Scientific Reports in 2017 .

In some of the Paleolithic monuments of Europe, whose age is 936,000-147,000 years, scientists have indeed managed to find evidence of cannibalism, which can be regarded as a necessary measure in case of hunger or a simple unwillingness to “waste” an absolutely healthy body that died from natural causes. reasons. But in most cases, according to researchers, prehistoric cannibalism still wore a ritual nature.


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