Analysis of Neolithic pottery shards shows that in northern Europe, where poor soil and little sunlight made primitive agriculture very difficult, people were making cheese in places like Poland, possibly as early as 9,000 years ago.
Studies of the perforated vessels found not only the milk protein casein, which suggests the creation of curd-enriched products from raw milk, but casein from cows, goats, and sheep, suggesting that they made a form of La Turia long before most other forms. of modern food production has ever been achieved on the continent.
Common arguments for leaving dairy out of the diet stem from the idea that we’ve only been consuming dairy for a few thousand years and that no other mammal consumes lactose after infancy.
Instead of a few, new studies point to the consumption of dairy products from herd animals as early as at least the sixth millennium BC. – or 8000 years ago.
Researchers at the University of York point out that lactose intolerance would have been common in almost all European populations at the time, but the production methods still used to make yogurt, kefir and cheese were used to overcome this intolerance.
“While previous research has shown that dairy products were widely available in some areas of Europe during this period, for the first time we have clear evidence from pottery analysis of a diverse dairy herd, including cattle, sheep and goats,” said Dr Harry Robson from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology.
Robson and his colleagues, along with a team from the University of Krakow, looked at a Neolithic site in Poland called Sławęcinek, which shows activity around 3,600 BCE.
A small number of veins contained white mineral deposits that, when examined by proteomics and lipid analyses, revealed signs of dairy cattle and caprids, probably both sheep and goats.
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“The predominance of caseins … could suggest that the residues in these dishes are the result of casein-containing cheese products, not milk or whey products,” the authors write in the Royal Society Open Science journal.
“Cheese consists mainly of curd proteins, while whey proteins and most of the lactose remain in the whey part when the curd is coagulated.”
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This shows that the intelligent ancient Poles managed to work around their own genetic lactose intolerance to add a sustainable and protein-rich food source to their diet.
Today, lactose intolerant people can still eat well-aged cheeses because the lactose is removed both during cheesemaking and aging, although they probably don’t realize that this knowledge is as old as pottery.
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