posted on Dec, 15 2012 @ 11:40 PM
I was just browsing John Hawks' anthroblog and he was talking about a new paper in the journal nature, where evidence for cheese making going back
I'm totally socked in with work this week, but this new paper in Nature is an interesting piece of archaeological chemistry relevant to diet
change in the European Neolithic: "Earliest evidence for cheese making in the sixth millennium bc in northern Europe" .
The finding of abundant milk residuesin pottery vessels from seventh millennium sites from north-western Anatolia provided the earliest evidence of
milk processing, although the exact practice could not be explicitly defined1. Notably, the discovery of potsherds pierced with small holes appear at
early Neolithic sites in temperate Europe in the sixth millennium BC and have been interpreted typologically as ‘cheese-strainers’10, although a
direct association with milk processing has not yet been demonstrated. Organic residues preserved in pottery vessels have provided direct evidence for
early milk use in the Neolithic period in the Near East and south-eastern Europe, north Africa, Denmark and the British Isles, based on the δ13C and
Δ13C values of the major fatty acids in milk1, 2, 3, 4. Here we apply the same approach to investigate the function of sieves/strainer vessels,
providing direct chemical evidence for their use in milk processing. The presence of abundant milk fat in these specialized vessels, comparable in
form to modern cheese strainers11, provides compelling evidence for the vessels having being used to separate fat-rich milk curds from the
lactose-containing whey. This new evidence emphasizes the importance of pottery vessels in processing dairy products, particularly in the manufacture
of reduced-lactose milk products among lactose-intolerant prehistoric farming communities.
That is right back to the beginning of agriculture. In another thread it was discussed that early north Africans were processing milk into yogurt 7000
Scientists have discovered that North African people have been making yogurt for more than 7,000 years, thanks to an analysis of pottery shards
which was published in the journal Nature. Yogurt left tell-tale traces of fat on the ceramic fragments, which suggests that it might have been a way
for these people to tolerate milk as adults.
The earliest dairying dates back to 9,000 years in Anatolia, but the new findings from 7,000 years ago predate the emergence and spread of the gene
variants needed for adults to digest the lactose found in milk. Richard Evershed, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Bristol, led the
Rock paintings from north Africa showing cattle.
edit on 15-12-2012 by punkinworks10 because: (no reason given)