Traces of Cheese from the Neolithic found in Croatia


Traces of ancient cheese older than 7 centuries have changed the previous thought that cheese making stared in the Mediterranean.

It seems that cheese making did start 5 centuries before people learned how to properly store milk. The tasty innovation may have saved lives. Researchers from the US, UK and Croatia studied several pottery fragments dating back to the Neolithic period in order to observe the eating habits of the people. It was revealed that people in the area used organized agriculture and grew livestock for more than 8,000 years.

Pottery plays a crucial role in determining the culture and habits of many populations around the world. Ceramic is great for holding food and observing the cultural tradition that was employed in decorating the pot. One of the earliest examples is Impressed Ware. They are reminiscent of shells and considered to be one of the first types of decorations found on pots.

It was already known from previously recovered pottery that some pots were used to store milk, a decisive proof that dairy was an essential part of the Neolithic tribes that lived in the area.

Milk was probably given to kids as an alternative to water, since it is healthy and relatively safe. As time passed Impressed Ware was replaced by other styles which share elements with other Mediterranean cultures.

One interesting style is the Figulina type, which comprises only 5% of the total number of pottery but milk traces can always be found on Figulina pots

Another interesting type of pottery is Rhyta, which are pots shaped like animals or people. Complex analysis has revealed that Rhyta was used to store fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Carbon test have revealed that the pots are almost 7,200 years old, making them the oldest dairy containers in the world that were used for fermented dairy products.

It is not clear why the vessels were shaped like animals but cheese making was a significant step for humanity as cheese could be stored for long periods of time.


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