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Read From Gouda to Camembert? the "scent traces? Of the approximately 5, 000 cheeses today often go back in history. But when and where the basic concept of "cheese" emerged is largely unclear. Researchers have now discovered the oldest direct evidence of cheese production to date: they found traces of dairy products from remnants of pitted pottery from Poland dating back to the 6th millennium BC. The people then used them apparently as sieves to separate the cheese raw material from the whey, say the researchers around Melanie Salque from the University of Bristol. Not only does it taste good, cheese also has other great benefits: it is long-lasting compared to milk and makes it digestible for people with lactose intolerance. Although today most Europeans tolerate lactose in raw milk, at the beginning of the dairy's development history, this adaptation did not exist yet, say the scientists. Like most of today's Asians, early Europeans could not digest lactose? Milk caused painful bloating bellies. Only the fermentation opened the potential of the milk as a source of food, because it transforms lactose into generally digestible lactic acid. At the same time, the majority of the remaining milk sugar is separated with the whey during cheese production.

Evidence has already been provided that people used dairy products in prehistoric times - for example, in northwestern Anatolia 8, 000 years ago. However, in the case of the relevant finds it was not possible to determine whether they were vessels for cheese production or whether they were used to produce other forms of fermented milk, such as yoghurt. The findings from Poland are now different, since they are obvious cheese dairy utensils, the researchers say.

Whey once leaked through the holes

The sieve-like clay objects from the 6th millennium had been known for some time, and it had already been suspected that the people of that time used them for cheese production. However, it could also have been that the screen structure served other applications, such as separating the honey from the honeycomb. However, Melanie Salque and her colleagues confirmed by chemical analysis that once milk components seeped through the holes: they found in the clay material residues of fatty acids that were clearly derived from dairy products. display

The researchers also investigated hole-free vessels that had been found together with the sieves. For some, they also found traces of dairy, suggesting that they were used in cheese production in connection with the sieves. For other containers, however, they found no evidence of fatty acids from milk, but only traces of meat products. They were probably used for cooking, say the researchers. In some other vessels they were again able to detect coatings of beeswax. Maybe this substance was lining their insides and making them tight. As a result, these vessels could have served to store water.

All in all, the results prove the already multifaceted use of different ceramics during this time, the researchers say. "The investigations of the finds give us remarkable insights into the pots of prehistoric people, " sums up study leader Richard Evershed from the University of Bristol.

Melanie Salque (University of Bristol) et al .: Nature, doi: 10.1038 / nature11698 © - Martin Vieweg


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