Food around 17,000 BC

The Globe




Southwest Asia

Archaeological sites throughout southwest Asia during the late Upper Pleistocene, from about 20,000 to 16,000 BC are often concentrations of stone tools, ash, and the bones of large, hoofed mammals. Almost all of the meat eaten by people came from just a few species of ungulates, mainly gazelles and wild cows. Based on the tools and other articfacts from Southwest Asian sites of this period, it appears that the basic social unit was a band of about fifteen or twenty people comprising several families who season after season moved through this area hunting animals and gathering plants. (Patterns in Prehistory)



Indus Valley





Mammoths, horses, and many other animals were hunted by these upper Paleolithic peoples, but the reindeer was the staff of life: at many sites 99% of all animal bones found belonged to reindeer. (Patterns in Prehistory)

One of the most amply documented Upper Paleolithic cultures in eastern Europe is the Kostenski-Bershevo culture centered in the Don River Valley, about 470 kilometers southeast of Moscow. About 25,000 to 11,000 years ago, the people of Kostenski subsisted primarily through big-game hunting, mainly of mammoths or horses, with an occasional wild cow or reindeer. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Undeniably, the hunting of big game – megafauna – made a significant contribution to the subsistence of Upper Paleolithic people. In central and eastern Europe, for example, sites dating between 28,000 BP and 10,000 BP reflect the major role of the wooly mammoth in the subsistence base of Upper Paleolithic people. Portrayals of ancient hunters fighting a daily duel to the death with huge, aggressive beasts may offer us a romantic image, but it seems an unlikely strategy for survival. It is far more likely that the people of the Upper Paleolithic subsisted on a broad spectrum of foods, including the meat from animals both large and small, birds, fish, seeds, nuts, berries, and starchy roots. Archaeological evidence is finally beginning to support this sensible reconstruction. (The Past in Perspective)

South America




North America