Oldest evidence for cheese making

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posted on Dec, 15 2012 @ 11:40 PM
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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 9000 years.

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" [1].

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.


johnhawks.net...
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 years ago.


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 study.

Rock paintings from north Africa showing cattle.



scitechdaily.com...

edit on 15-12-2012 by punkinworks10 because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 15 2012 @ 11:59 PM
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reply to post by punkinworks10
 


So 9000 years ago anatolians had domesticated cattle to the point to where they could harvest milk, that's pretty impressive. By 8000 years ago the practice had spread to northern Europe and by 7000 ya to north Africa.
That's a good clear progression. The new findings show how quickly anatolia and the surrounding region advanced culturally in the wake of the younger dryas, whereas north America stagnated, while SA progresses faster but not as fast.



posted on Dec, 16 2012 @ 12:06 AM
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I love the pics more than the cheese.Although I love the cheese on my BLT
....I would sometimes ponder if cheese was perfected for breast milk substitution early in human development.



posted on Dec, 16 2012 @ 12:07 AM
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Nice find.

My guess is that cheese made so long ago will far surpass the cheese today. Not all, but most.

hmmmm...I wonder what 9,000 yr old cheese tastes like?


Peace



posted on Dec, 16 2012 @ 12:12 AM
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Originally posted by jude11
Nice find.

My guess is that cheese made so long ago will far surpass the cheese today. Not all, but most.

hmmmm...I wonder what 9,000 yr old cheese tastes like?


Peace

STRONG
That would be some seriously aged cheese.



posted on Dec, 16 2012 @ 12:14 AM
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reply to post by jude11
 


I wouldn't doubt that the ultimate
origins of dairying would stem from the breast milk and cows milk.



posted on Dec, 16 2012 @ 05:59 AM
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Originally posted by punkinworks10

Originally posted by jude11
Nice find.

My guess is that cheese made so long ago will far surpass the cheese today. Not all, but most.

hmmmm...I wonder what 9,000 yr old cheese tastes like?


Peace

STRONG
That would be some seriously aged cheese.
I think it would need to be grated.

Cool thread punkin'. Thanks for sharing it.





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