Scientists unearth long-lost leftovers in Siberia

Archaeologists in Siberia just found leftover food from hundreds of years ago. Yuck. Or fascinating. If you’re into that sort of thing

If you’ve ever discovered a long-forgotten peanut butter sandwich somewhere in your house (thanks, kids!) or practically petrified french fries that fell underneath the seat of your car weeks (or months – when was the last time you cleaned your car?) ago, you probably felt a little weird about it. A story out of Siberia may help you not feel so bad. Archaeologists there just uncovered dinner leftovers from – wait for it – 400 years ago.

The leftovers were the remains of a turnip dinner that scientists believe was intended either for political exiles or tsarist soldiers who were working to conquer Siberia. The food was found in a clay pot in the remains of a house in Tara, first founded in 1594.

Whoever cooked the meal should get a free pass for not cleaning up after the fact, however: the remains of the food and the house were badly charred by a huge fire that apparently broke out there.

According to Professor Maria Chernaya of Tomsk State University, after the log house burned down, it was left exactly as it was, where it remained until archaeologists discovered it.  

“The fire was quite big. Near the stove was a big clay pot, called ‘korchaga’ in Russian,” Chernaya explained to the Siberian Times. “It was used not for cooking, but for storing food.”

“So there was a turnip, and it was standing near the stove,” she said. “When the fire began, the temperature was so high that the turnip ‘baked’ inside this pot.”

Chernaya explained that the turnip had even retained its original shape, but collapsed when researchers removed it from the clay pot. They were able to determine that the food was, indeed, a turnip though analyzing the material.

The team also retrieved the remains of a leather wallet, a knitted women’s stocking, as well as pieces of high-quality glass. Because of this, they believe that the home may have belonged to wealthy people.

By Dawn Henderson, Earth.com Staff Writer