The advent of agriculture roughly 11,500 years ago in the Middle East was a milestone for humankind — a revolution in diet and lifestyle that moved beyond the way hunter-gatherers had existed since Homo sapiens arose more than 300,000 years ago in Africa.

While the scarcity of well-preserved human remains from the period preceding this turning point has made the diet of preagricultural people a bit of a mystery, new research is now providing insight into this question. Scientists reconstructed the dietary practices of one such culture from North Africa, surprisingly documenting a heavily plant-based diet.

The researchers examined chemical signatures in bones and teeth from the remains of seven people, as well as various isolated teeth, from about 15,000 years ago found in a cave outside the village of Taforalt in northeastern Morocco. The people were part of what is called the Iberomaurusian culture.