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Neolithic farmers processed cow, goat and sheep milk

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According to a recent study, milk from cows, goats, and sheep was processed by Neolithic farmers.

A study published in the Royal Society Open Science has confirmed that Neolithic farmers in what is now Poland produced dairy products using milk from different animals such as cows, sheep, and goats. This conclusion was drawn from an analysis of residues found in clay vessels discovered in the Kujawy-Pomerania Province.

Dr. Harry Robson from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York said: “These results contribute significantly to our understanding of the use of dairy products by some of the earliest farmers of Central Europe.

“Whilst previous research has shown that dairy products were widely available in some European regions during this period, here, for the first time, we have clear evidence for a diversified dairy herd, including cattle, sheep and goats, from the analysis of ceramics.”

In 2016, while conducting rescue excavations in the vicinity of the village of Sławęcinek (Kujawy-Pomerania), archaeologists discovered ceramic vessels in a Late Neolithic layer (approximately 3650-3100 years ago). The excavation also revealed traces of a small settlement that included four houses, wells, and burial sites.

To investigate the vessels and the deposits on their surface, the researchers utilized a multi-stranded proteomic and lipid-analysis. By comparing proteomic data, it is possible to directly identify cheesemaking and other dairy processing methods that enrich curds by examining the proportion of curd proteins.

Lead author of the study, Miranda Evans from the Department of Archaeology at Cambridge said: “Proteomic results showed that the ancient residues (from vessels – PAP) closely resembled both the modern cheesemaking residues and cheese itself and not whole milk. This reveals that the people of Sławęcinek practised cheesemaking or another form of curd-enriching dairy processing.”

Further evidence of multiple species used for cheesemaking was the presence of both cow and sheep or goat bones on the archaeological site.

During the Neolithic period, lactose intolerance was prevalent, affecting nearly all inhabitants of Europe. It wasn’t until the Late Bronze Age when a genetic mutation became widespread, allowing adults to produce lactase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose in the body. At the same time, cattle farmers discovered techniques to reduce the lactose content in milk through methods such as cheese-making or yogurt production.

Evidence for the consumption of dairy products includes the remains of vessels with ‘milk residues’ preserved from those times in various regions. A similar argument are dairy proteins found in the dental plaque of Neolithic humans. There are also bones of cattle with kill patterns expected for dairy animals.

There is mounting archaeological evidence indicating that milk consumption has been a practice in Central Europe dating back to the Neolithic era. Fat particles characteristic of dairy products were discovered on ceramic vessels unearthed in modern-day Poland and Hungary, estimated to be from the 6th millennium BC. Furthermore, traces of cheese production dating back over 7,000 years have been identified on vessels excavated in Kujawy.

PAP

Header Image Credit : University of York

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Archaeology

Archaeologists may have discovered the lost city of Tu’am

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Excavations in the Umm Al Quwain area of the UAE have revealed 6th century ruins that could be the lost city of Tu’am.

The ruins are situated on Al Sinniyah Island, part of a collection of small islands on the western part of the Khor Al Bidiyah peninsula.

Previous studies on the island have revealed a pearling village and monastery, which has been the focus of the latest season of excavations.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a larger settlement, with the earliest signs of occupation dating back to the 4th century AD and peaking in the 5th or 6th century.

The team uncovered traces of large semi-urbanised tenement buildings measuring 30 square metres, which are tightly packed around narrow walkways. According to the researchers, the settlement could be the lost city of Tu’am as described in Ancient Arab texts.

Tu’am was a regional capital on the Gulf coast that was famed for its pearl fishing industry and trade in precious gems.

The population went into decline following a plague and regional tensions, and subsequently was abandoned. Mass graves in the vicinity support the historical account of plague, as the skeletal remains show no evidence of trauma or a violent death.

“Our archaeological work has discovered the largest settlement by far ever found on the Gulf coast of the Emirates,” said Prof Tim Power of UAE University.

“And it’s exactly the right period for the city described in the early Islamic geographical sources. It’s clearly a really important place. No one has ever found it.”

Professor Power explained that while they have not found irrefutable evidence (such as an inscription bearing the town’s name), no other major settlements from this period have been discovered on the coast, strengthening the argument that the settlement is Tu’am. “It’s a process of elimination,” he explained.

Header Image Credit : Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology

Sources : NUAE

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

New findings in North America’s first city

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Cahokia was the largest urban settlement of the Mississippian culture, a mound-building pre-Columbian civilisation that emerged in the Midwestern, Eastern, and South-eastern United States.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was founded around AD 1050 along the banks of the Mississippi River, located near present-day St. Louis, Missouri.

The city covered an area between six to nine square miles (notably larger than many contemporary European cities such as London) and was home to up to 20,000 inhabitants at its peak.

Following the tradition of the Mississippian culture, the people of Cahokia constructed large earthen mounds – ranging from raised platforms, conical, and ridge-top designs – involving the movement of 55 million cubic feet of earth over a period that lasted several decades.

The largest mound is known as “Monks Mound,” named after a group of Trappist monks, which rises to a height of 290 metres and was once the tallest building construction in North America.

Image Credit : MattGush – iStock

Archaeologists and students from Saint Louis University (SLU) have recently conducted a series of excavations on the western periphery of the Cahokia Mounds.

The team unearthed 900-year-old ceramics, microdrills, structures, and wall trenches dating from around AD 1100 to 1200, during the Sterling Phase of the Mississippian Period. According to the archaeologists, the finds offer new insights into a crucial period in the chiefdom’s development, coinciding with Cahokia’s rapid population growth.

The excavations follow an aerial survey by SLU and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to conduct Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to determine whether further mounds or archaeological features lie within the acres of thick forests and swampy land near the site’s main complex.

Header Image Credit : Alamy

Sources : KSDK

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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