As noted in prior posts, the understanding of human social and cultural development has changed radically over the last decade, if not last five years. For example, humans lived in huts (albeit temporarily) even before they were farmers. Thus, as frequently is the case, there is not a sudden change, but over time a gradual metaphorasis from one state of being to another. First, housing; now, cooking.
Residues in ceramic pottery indicates that humans were cooking thousands of years before farming communities began heating their food. Researchers in Japan found that hunter-gatherers living between 15,300 and 11,200 years ago cooked freshwater or marine animals in ceramic vessels. More than 3/4 of the vessels tested displayed the chemical signatures of freshwater or marine animals.
Discoveries have shown that hunter-gatherers across East Asia made pottery at least 20,000 years ago in China. But, until this recent study, none had been connected with cooking. Researchers now plan to test these for cooked food residues.
Another implication of the research findings is that East Asian hunter-gatherers may have introduced pottery making into Europe rather than Middle Eastern farmers, as has been currently believed.
As with all things human, how we developed as a species and a social animal is more complex and fascinating than believed even five years ago.
The report can be found at: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v496/n7445/full/nature12109.html.