Read aloud Remains of milk with porridge detected in the cooking pots Archaeologists found remains of cow's milk in cooking pots in an Iron Age settlement on the Western Isles of Scotland. This discovery suggests that the Scots of the Outer Hebrides were already operating dairy farming 2, 500 years ago.

Exploration director Oliver Craig, of Newcastle University, told the BBC: "It is possible that the Scots of the early Iron Age were already preparing their porridge with milk." At that time, people used grains such as barley but not oats so they ate a similar kind of porridge as is common in Sweden today.

The archaeologists had discovered the traces of cow's milk in fragments of 2, 500-year-old cooking pots in Cladh Hallan, in Süduist. The fragments came together with animal bones and flint tools in the excavation of an early Iron Age round house to light.

Tests with chemical antibodies confirmed that milk proteins are present in 7 out of 9 of the vessels. "Despite the inhospitable climates in the far north, the findings show that the dairy industry of this early period was already well developed, " says Craig. "Many people would not have expected that Scotland had such advanced dairy farming so early, but our material refutes that." Ad

As reported in the journal Nature, the new findings solve an old controversy, namely whether early inhabitants of the islands have gained their food source from the dairy or meat industry. In archaeological circles, dairy farming is considered more advanced than livestock farming, which carries more risks and makes more work. Bones of calves came to light in the dig. Probably the young cattle were slaughtered to sustain milk production.

Birgit Stöcklhuber

© science.de

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