Beneath Still Waters - Multistage Aquatic Exploitation of Euryale ferox (Salisb.) during the Acheulian

Naama Goren-Inbar1, Yoel Melamed2, Irit Zohar3 , Kumar Akhilesh4 and Shanti Pappu4,5

1. Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. Email:
2. The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 5290000, Israel.
3. National Natural History Collections, Berman Building, Edmond J. Safra Campus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.
4. Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, 28, I Main Road, C.I.T. Colony, Mylapore, Chennai 600004, Tamil Nadu, India. Email: /
5. Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Centre, Pune 411006, India

Cite this as: Goren-Inbar, N., Melamed, Y., Zohar, I., Akhilesh, K. and Pappu, S. 2014 Beneath Still Waters - Multistage Aquatic Exploitation of Euryale ferox (Salisb.) during the Acheulian, Internet Archaeology 37.


Composite image - modern day collection of  fox nuts, India

Remains of the highly nutritious aquatic plant Fox nut – Euryale ferox Salisb. (Nymphaeaceae) – were found at the Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Israel. Here, we present new evidence for complex cognitive strategies of hominins as seen in their exploitation of E. ferox nuts. We draw on excavated data and on parallels observed in traditional collecting and processing practices from Bihar, India. We suggest that during the early Middle Pleistocene, hominins implemented multistage procedures comprising underwater gathering and subsequent processing (drying, roasting and popping) of E. ferox nuts. Hierarchical processing strategies are observed in the Acheulian lithic reduction sequences and butchering of game at this and other sites, but are poorly understood as regards the exploitation of aquatic plant resources. We highlight the ability of Acheulian hominins to resolve issues related to underwater gathering of E. ferox nuts during the plant's life cycle and to adopt strategies to enhance their nutritive value.

Go to Table of Contents.