When Eating Dairy Was a Life-or-Death Question – Facts So Romantic

Clay sieves used to filter cheese in Poland 7,500 years ago are remarkably similar to ones used in recent times.Salque et al. / Nature

Perforated pottery shards sat alongside cattle bones at the Polish dig site. There archaeologists collected fragments from bowls, cooking pots, and flasks and brought them back to the United Kingdom. At his lab at the University of Bristol, Richard Evershed discovered something on the unglazed clay: the oldest evidence of milk-fat residues on the continent. The farmers, some of the first in Europe, had been making cheese at the site roughly 7,500 years ago. Other studies show that farmers in the Middle East began making cheese even earlier—maybe 2,000 years earlier, soon after animals were first domesticated. 

These recent discoveries have lent support to the idea that cheese was a key part of the diet of early farmers, especially as they spread out from the warm, fertile areas where agriculture first emerged. “Cheese was a part of the diet, and an important component of the diet, and it might have been more difficult for farmers to spread to northern Europe without it,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at the University…
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