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A single tool found in a southern Italian cave is changing what we thought ancient humans ate.

An analysis of a combination pestle-grinder unearthed in the Grotta Paglicci found an ancient starch, thought to be a species of wild grain native to Europe, embedded inside. The tool dates to 32,000 years ago — about 9,000 years earlier than when humans are thought to have begun farming grains.

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Researchers aren’t sure whether the flour was used to make bread, porridge or something else, though it’s probably safe to say this isn’t the cave where pasta began.


Nonetheless, it throws a wrench in the grain ban of the Paleo Diet, which shuns foods that are “new” to our tables like milk, beans, rice and flour. Advocates of the PaleoDiet believe that new foods are to blame for the rise of modern health problems like heart disease and obesity.

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