# How would a bronze-age people harvest meat from a creature the size of a mountain?

In this world a flat but giant continent holds a ginormous and ancient but unrotting corpse, from which many peoples harvest large amounts of meat.

However, as said, these people are at most in the bronze age, with bronze age tools and technology. How might the harvesting of this meat work?

• @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica what does the combat tag have to do with harvesting meat from a meat mountain? Jun 29 '20 at 14:54
• Humans have been turning big chunks of meat into little chunks of meat since before the dawn of history. This problem is solvable with no technology whatsoever, and it becomes trivial if you have any object at all with a sharp edge. Jun 29 '20 at 15:12
• To a human mouth, a cow might as well be a mountain. Jun 29 '20 at 15:26
• even during stone age people hunt giant mammoth and do eat stranded whale, so i dont see a problem for bronze age tool to butcher the meat, you dont even need preservation if it never rot . Jun 29 '20 at 17:21
• I'm having problems digesting this situation. Jun 29 '20 at 21:13

People ate flesh well before the bronze age: even stone age people could hunt and butcher animals.

As long as you have a cutting edge, made of stone or bronze, you can cut pieces of meat.

If you are really desperate for food you can simply bite it off and chew.

• Yep, only hinderance might be that this beasts skin is too thick/durable for stone or bronze tools, but in case of a famine a thousand cuts will eventually get it open Jun 30 '20 at 11:01

If the "meat" is truly unrotting, and as big as you describe, I think there'd be a whole supply chain and it might look a lot like stonecutting. You would have butchers/miners/stonecutters "quarrying" the meat into blocks or cubes, perhaps salting them for preservation, and loading them onto wagons. Wagons would carry the meat to markets or to seaports to ship them around the world.

I am trying to imagine how the meat could be "unrotting" and my assumption is that it might be frozen. You can actually eat long-frozen mammoth meat found in the permafrost in Siberia. Therefore, after "quarrying" the meat it makes sense that they might have to add a preservative (such as salt); also that makes it seem less magical and more realistic.

This is something akin to the medieval/renaissance salt cod trade. Europeans would sail as far as Maine to harvest Atlantic cod, salt and dry the meat on the shore, and then ship it back to Europe for sale. So, a long supply chain is economically feasible if the meat is abundant and the technology for preserving it is available.

• Hang on... Medieval/Renaissance cod harvesters that went as far as Maine? I assume this was after they discovered the American continent, right? Jun 29 '20 at 13:54
• Years ago I read Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World which claimed that not only Vikings but also the Basques found their way to Maine long before Columbus did, and they went there specifically for this economic purpose. I have not studied any contradictory histories. Jun 29 '20 at 15:41
• @Nzall Fisherman of Ireland, Scotland, Portugal and the Basque area apparently routinely fished the Grand Banks just east of Main, Novia Scotia and Newfoundland as of late Middle Ages. And landed on beaches there. They just didn't know it was America. All they knew there was land (islands?) there in that direction. And good fishing grounds. Distances in the Northern Atlantic are not as large as further South were Columbus crossed. Vikings made it via the Iceland/Greenland route even earlier in 1003 or 1004. Jun 29 '20 at 22:45
• @Nzall You have to keep in mind that fisherfolk lived in totally different social circles as the rich merchants and nobles that concentrated on the trade with the Americas (AKA the Carribean) at the time. I can totally image that the knowledge of the fishermen wasn't generally known. It wasn't until the last half of the 16th century that the east coast of North America was properly explored and the first colonies founded there. After that it went really quick. Jun 29 '20 at 22:53
• You can actually eat long-frozen mammoth meat found in the permafrost in Siberia. Please don't, though. We don't need another pandemic. Jun 30 '20 at 0:59
1. You make a bronze/stone butcher-knife-like tool.
2. You hack at the corpse until some meat gets completely cut off.

Greek soldiers used bronze tools in combat, and before the bronze age we know people used stone spears and knifes both to hunt and to fight one another.
What does that mean? That both bronze tools and stone tools are capable of cutting flesh.
The only way it'd see your inhabitants having problems harvesting meat is if this colossal corpse was completely covered in scales as tough as steel, and even then, all you need to do is live near is mouth/ back cavity (be it a cloaca or an anal cavity) and hack at the soft insides.
People did eat meat before the first iron tools were made, and they certainly killed other people before it as well.

• Given the size of the carcass, I would think saws would be more efficient than butcher knives. If the meat is frozen, maybe even drills, chisels, or wedges would be used (like stone or ice cutting). Jun 30 '20 at 17:41

This is just mining with benefits

Where did bronze age people get bronze? They mined it! Even stone-age people could have done it with flint axes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20160420-the-ancient-copper-mines-dug-by-bronze-age-children

Entrances into the Great Orme, the largest prehistoric copper mine in Britain (Credit: Great Orme Mines)

The great advantage of mining a meat creature is of course that the miners have a ready supply of food. They can make caves in the meat and live in them. When it's dinner time, they just carve a bit off the wall and roast it over the fire. This has the dual benefit of providing food and at the same time increasing the size of their living quarters.

Distribution is done by any of the usual means with the fantastic advantage that the meat never goes rotten. People will pay (or trade rather) a huge amount for such a valuable commodity.

Bronze age technology included farming tools, including scythes. Swords also existed back then. Blades from that age were not as sharp as steel ones, but you could still cut flesh with those.

Banging that meat with mallets, even soft ones, will make it softer in some spots. You can then proceed to slash at it with bronze age tools. If the people have such an abundant source of food, they may stablish themselves around the mountain and have an industry going. They might even develop special tools for it. I can envision it, a wooden pole with a blade on one sode and a heavy bronze or wooden mallet head on the other (to beat on the meat).

Also if they are into chemistry as much as ancient egyptians were, they may use acid to dissolve the meat in some places. That would allow them to remove large blocks of meat from the mountain. They may use blocks weigthing many tons each to build a flesh pyramid!

In Stephen Baxter's "Raft"; The protagonist gets stuck inside a giant space whale in a universe where there is pressure in space (and also oxygen). The whale is huge (planetoid sized) so in order to "swim" through space it has to be light, so it's skin and giblets have just enough holding them together that they can survive in their natural habitat, but a human would be able to easily pull off chunks with very little force (Which is normally not a problem, there are no humans in space)

Your creature could be the same, if it had the same sort of flesh as us it may crumble under its own weight (https://www.quora.com/Why-does-the-square-cube-law-stop-giant-animals-from-existing), so it having almost incorporeal flesh could counter both of these problems

It could also be that the corpses central nervous system and brain are dead, but it doesn't rot because the individual "cells" are still functioning, just independently of each other and the main organism now there is no central command. These "cells" (Which are frigging huge) could just be pulled off of the main creature and seem like little mini-creatures in their own right that die once removed from the circulatory system.