Archaeologists find that 5500-year-old Mesopotamian bowls contained meat, bone, and marrow

Anita Durairaj
Mesopotamian bowl from 3100 to 2900 BCPhoto byZunkir; CC-BY-SA-4.0

Ancient Mesopotamia includes the region of modern-day Iraq. The first urban society is thought to have developed in Mesopotamia about 5,500 years ago.

The Uruk culture of Mesopotamia was predominant in the region. They left behind the remains of their temples, sculptures, and even writing. However, for archaeologists, their presence in the region is mostly revealed through pottery such as the beveled rim-bowl or BRB.

The BRB is the first mass-produced ceramic bowl. It is small and undecorated and constitutes three-quarters of all ceramics that were found at the site of the Uruk culture.

The bowls have a steep angle and a defined base. They are made out of thick-walled clay. Hence, the bowls have been able to withstand the passing of time.

The function and purpose of the bowls have been the subject of debate among archaeologists.

Archaeologists believed that the bowls were used to distribute cereal or bread to those who worked or labored for the elites in the Uruk society.

However, a recent study in the Journal of Archeological Science reveals that the BRBs also contained meat stew or broth.

Scientists conducted organic residue analysis on shards of BRBs that were excavated in north-eastern Iraq. They found that the shards contained lipids which are oily compounds that include fats.

The scientific study revealed that the bowls would have contained meat products, dairy products, and plant-based food.

The meat-based foods were stews or broth that contained bone and marrow.

The recent finding challenges the conception that BRBs were mostly used for storing cereal.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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