Portfolio > The Quest for Food: Excerpts

Primate Diets
Control of Fire 
Luring Prey
Wetland Foods
Periglacial Steppe
Sub-arctic Habitat
Marine Resources
Buffalo Hunters
Sago Harvesting
Firing Woodlands
Preserved Foods
Keeping Account

All illustrations by the author Ivan Crowe

Sago Harvesting

There is evidence that people who lived in the rainforests of New Guinea had already begun by 30,000 years ago to exert some control over their environment. Although still hunter-gatherers, it is thought that they were deliberately encouraging the growth of some wild food plants such as yams and sago, by draining glades and cutting back jungle in those places where they grew naturally. Sago is prepared by stripping the outer layers from the trunk of a felled sago palm and beating the fibrous contents to a pulp before removing it and rinsing it through with water to release a starch rich paste that is then dried to make flour. Large axe heads have been found from this period which it is thought were used to ring bark trees, clear roots and undergrowth and to thin out stands of food plants.