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Found: A Lunch Box From 4,000 Years Ago

Someone’s lunch was full of whole grains.

Someone's lunch box, once.
Someone’s lunch box, once. Archaeological Service of the Canton of Berne, Badri Redha

Up in the high passes of the Bernese Alps, a team of researchers found a box. It was about 8 inches in diameter and made of pine, willow, and larch. It was 4,000 years old.

Now, the scientists report in a new paper, published in Scientific Reports, they have discovered traces of what was once held in the box—someone’s lunch (or dinner or breakfast).

The team thought that the box might have held porridge and looked for traces of milk. But they found nothing. Instead, using a newly developed technique, they were able to find traces of spelt, emmer, and barley inside the box.

As The Local reports, there’s no way of knowing exactly why the box was carried up high in the mountains, but it might have belonged to a farmer grazing cattle on a mountain plateau or a traveller crossing the mountains. It’s not a stretch—there’s probably a trail mix on the market right now that features spelt, emmer, and barley. A good lunch is a good lunch, at any time in history.