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Neolithic farmers processed cow, goat and sheep milk



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.


Header Image Credit : University of York

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War in Ukraine sees destruction of cultural heritage not witnessed seen since WW2




The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has resulted in a significant loss of human lives and the national and international displacement of many Ukrainian people.

The conflict has also seen the destruction of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, intent on erasing the public history and memory to install the Russian narrative.

In a statement issued on March 3 2022, UNESCO said it underlines the obligations of international humanitarian law, notably the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its 1954 and 1999 Protocols, to refrain from inflicting damage to cultural property, and “condemns all attacks and damage to cultural heritage in all its forms in Ukraine”.

As part of joint operation between a team of investigators from several Ukrainian and US institutions, an archaeological survey is being conducted to assess the level of destruction, the results of which are published in the journal Antiquity.

“Given the ongoing conflict, it is not yet possible to assess the damage to the cultural heritage along the frontlines”, say the authors. “However, since the de-occupation of the Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv and Mykolaiv regions in June 2022, a preliminary understanding of the scale and nature of destruction in some areas has developed”.

Many historic buildings have suffered damage at the hands of the Russian military, including the UNESCO-listed Children’s (Youth) Regional Library (former Vasyl Tarnovsky Museum of Ukrainian Antiquities), the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum, the Church of the Ascension, and the 11th-century church, citadel and graveyard at Oster.

Collections from museums in occupied areas such as Kherson, Melitopol, and Mariupol have been confiscated and sent to Russia, and in some instances, Russian soldiers have looted artefacts to keep or sell.

According to the study, the archaeological heritage is also being destroyed at an alarming rate. Extensive trench systems and missile strikes are causing significant damage to burial mounds and cemetery sites, resulting in the destruction of human burials at historically important locations such as Boldyni Hory – one of the largest 11th century necropolises in Ukraine.

“In this static ground war that is characterised by military trenches used at a scale similar to the Second World War, Ukrainian cultural heritage is being destroyed at a rate not seen since 1945,” state the authors.

Header Image Credit: Serhii Tarabarov

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists find five Bronze Age axes in the forests of Kociewie




According to an announcement by the Pomeranian Provincial Conservator of Monuments, archaeologists have discovered five Bronze Age axes in Starogard Forest District, located in Kociewie, Poland.

The initial discovery was made by history enthusiast, Denis Konkol, who notified local authorities from the Pomeranian provincial conservator of monuments. In Poland, it is forbidden to conduct an amateur search for artefacts using a metal detector, either for commercial or for personal use unless licensed by local authorities, requiring all finds to be reported which become the property of the state.

Upon inspection of the discovery site, archaeologists found five axes within a radius of several dozen metres at a depth of 20 to 30 centimetres beneath a layer of turf and humus.

Igor Strzok, Pomeranian provincial conservator of monuments, said: “The extraction of these finds took place under the archaeological supervision of our colleagues from the Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments. This means that we prevented possible destruction of the site.”

The five axes date from between 1700 and 1300 BC and were likely a ritual deposit of a cult nature, however, the archaeologists haven’t ruled out that the axes could also be a deposit related to trade.

According to the announcement, the objects are tautušiai type axes associated with Baltic cultures from today’s Lithuania or north-eastern Poland. Defined by their considerable size, the axes feature a slim handle with raised edges and a wide blade.

Previous excavations of Bronze Age sites in the region generally find bracelets or breastplates, while the most recent unearthing of a weapon or Bronze Age tool dates back 20 years, highlighting the scarcity of such finds in the region.

The axes are scheduled to be transported to the Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk, where experts will conduct a thorough examination.

Header Image Credit : Stargard Forest District

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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