Cheese-making developed in Northern Europe over 7,000 years ago, possibly because our ancestors were lactose intolerant. Pieces of sieve-like pottery, excavated in Poland 30 years ago and dated to the 6th millennium BC, were typologically interpreted as cheese-strainers. Now results, published in Nature, from the analysis of fatty acids trapped in their fabric has revealed the first direct evidence they were used to process dairy products. ‘We know that at that time most humans were intolerant to lactose,’ said Mélanie Salque, from the University of Bristol. ‘Low-lactose products such as cheese are an efficient way to exploit milk’s nutritional benefits without becoming ill.’


This article was published in World Archaeology Issue 57. Click here to subscribe