Evidence of cheese making to circumvent lactose intolerance 6,000 years ago found in Poland

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Analysis of Neolithic pottery shards shows that in Northern Europe, where poor soils and low sunlight made early agriculture extremely difficult, people were making cheese in places like Poland potentially 9,000 years ago .

Examinations of punctured containers not only revealed the presence of dairy protein casein, suggesting the creation of curd-enriched products from raw milk, but also casein from cows, goats, and sheep, suggesting they were making a kind of La Tur long before most other forms. of modern food production has ever reached the continent.

Common arguments for removing dairy from the diet stem from the idea that we have only consumed dairy for a few thousand years and that no other mammal consumes lactose after infancy.

Rather than a few, new research indicates that the consumption of dairy products by herd animals dates back to at least the sixth millennium BC, or 8,000 years ago.

Researchers from the University of York point out that lactose intolerance would have been common in almost all European populations at the time, but treatment methods still used today to create yogurt, kefir and cheese were used to overcome this intolerance.

“While previous research has shown that dairy products were widely available in parts of Europe during this period, here, for the first time, we have clear evidence of a diverse dairy herd, including cattle, sheep and goats, from the analysis of ceramics,” said Dr Harry Robson, from the Department of Archeology at the University of York.

credit: Robson et al. Royal Society Open Publication

Robson and his colleagues along with a team from the University of Krakow examined a Neolithic site in Poland called Sławęcinek, which shows activity from around 3,600 BCE.

A small number of containers had a white mineral residue which, when examined by proteomic and lipid analyses, revealed evidence of milk production from cattle and goats, probably both sheep and goats.

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“The predominance of caseins…might suggest that residues formed on these vessels are the result of the presence of casein-rich curd products, rather than dairy or whey products,” the authors write in the journal Royal Society Open. Science.

“Cheese is composed primarily of curd protein while whey protein and the majority of the lactose remains in the whey portion as the curd coagulates.”

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This shows that the intelligent ancient Poles managed to circumvent their own genetic lactose intolerance to add a sustainable, protein-rich food source to their diet.

Today, people with lactose intolerance can still eat well-matured cheeses, thanks to the removal of lactose during cheese making and the aging process, although they probably don’t realize that this knowledge is as old as the pottery.

SHARE this Neolithic heritage with your cheese-loving friends…

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