Cheese has been a staple food for thousands of years. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Holger Reichardt
The discovery of ancient cheese sieves has pushed back the origins of cheese making in the Mediterranean.
The discovery was made by researchers from the US, UK and Croatia who had been analyzing fragments of ceramic pottery from two Neolithic sites to determine what they once contained.
Previously it was determined that some of the vessels had been used to store milk, but this is the first time that evidence of fermented dairy products has been found.
A small number of the vessels, which appeared to have distinct patterns of holes in them, may have even been used to strain milk during the cheese-making process.
"First, we have milking around, and it was probably geared for kids because it is a good source of hydration and is relatively pathogen-free," said anthropologist Sarah B. McClure.
"It wouldn't be a surprise for people to give children milk from another mammal."
The transition from milk storage to cheese-making may have taken as little as 500 years.
"Cheese production is important enough that people are making new types of kitchenware," said McClure. "We are seeing that cultural shift."
Radiocarbon dating has since revealed the cheese-straining sieves to be around 7,200 years old, making them the oldest known examples of cheese-making tools in the Mediterranean region.
The oldest known sieves found in Europe as a whole date back around 8,000 years.
Source: Science Alert | Comments (3)