Researchers within the ITN project LecHE have discovered that prehistoric humans already produced cheese 7000 years ago. Researchers analysed some fatty acid deposits from unglazed pottery pierced with small holes, excavated from archaeological sites in Poland.
This showed that dairy products were processed in these ceramic vessels. Furthermore, the typology of the sieves, close in shape to modern cheese strainers, provides compelling evidence that these specialised vessels were used for cheese-making.
Mélanie Salque, a Marie Curie Fellow researching a PhD at the University of Bristol and one of the authors of the paper said: "Before this study, it was not clear that cattle were used for their milk in Northern Europe around 7,000 years ago."
The study offers new insights into the ancient human diet and food processing technologies associated to low-lactose content milk products. Scientists believe that most humans were not tolerant to 'lactose' (a type of sugar found in milk) at that time.