Cheese-making older than thought – 7,000 years old and counting
Scientists have reportedly discovered pottery fragments that suggest cheese-making is a much older process than previously thought. The pottery pieces, which have small holes throughout, are thought to be more than 7,000 years old and may have been used to separate curds from whey…
According to an article in the journal Nature, the pottery fragments were discovered along a river in Poland and have been determined to be the oldest piece of evidence of cheese-making ever found. The pieces are expected to help researchers further understand the development of dairy in the ancient world, which had a big impact on human history and culture.
Peter Bogucki, an archaeologist at Princeton University, said the development of dairy, especially cheese, helped the people of Neolithic age get valuable nutrients. Most adults at the time could not eat large amounts of cheese due to lactose intolerance. However, being able to separate the curds from the why solved this problem as most of the lactose remained in the uneaten whey…
A research team led by University of Bristol professor Richard P. Evershed have studied the pottery fragments and determined that they contain milk and fat residues, lending evidence to the cheese theory. Evershed’s team focused on the chemical analysis of ancient pottery to determine what people were eating at the time and how they processed the food.
Previously Evershed’s lab has found milk fats in pottery pieces from Turkey that are more than 8,000 years old. However, this study did not conclusively mean cheese was being made, it could have been butter, yogurt, or another milk product. The new study in Poland is the first to strongly suggest cheese was being made due to the strainer-like appearance of the pots.
Whatever the state of lactose tolerance of the time, it is now certain that ancient people as far back as 7,000 years ago were able to make and sustain on cheese.
Cheese, I love cheese. Delicious, portable, easy to store. And most of the time, the older it gets the better it tastes. :)