New Technology Proves Cheesemaking Is At Least 7,000 Years Old
By Jessica Rawden 2012-12-14 13:30:27
Back in the 1970s, a set of strange jars were found dating back to the Neolithic period. When found, scientists were baffled. The jars had small holes throughout them, and scientists could not understand what use the containers might have had. Now, due to advancements in analyzing techniques, scientists have determined the jars were used as cheese strainers, dating the beginnings of cheesemaking to at least 7,000 years ago. Scientists discovered this by determining some residue left in the clay jars was, in fact, cow's milk.
Dairy products have been really important to human evolution. They contain nutrients that humans may not have gotten into their bodies otherwise, and they have been a good alternative for humans when crops have failed or meat has been scarce. However, 7,000 years ago, very few people would have been able to handle milk due to lactose intolerance, which is where cheese proves to be a viable invention. According to NPR, the process of making cheese dissolves the sugar in the milk that causes lactose intolerance. Creating a dairy food, like cheese, that could be digested by humans, evolutionary geneticist Mark Thomas tells the outlet, was a very important step for humanity.
"Milk gave us something — some extra edge in terms of survival.”
The essay was first published in the journal Nature, which took a look at the containers found by Princeton University archaeologists in the 1970s. Additionally, pieces of similar containers have been found in Libya, which suggest yogurt was created by humans during the same time period. Yum.