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Archive for June, 2016

cheese_1

Original Article:

qz.com

Alpine cheeses may have been one of our obsessions for over 3,000 years.

A paper published in PLoS on April 21 from researchers at Newcastle University and the University of York in England outlines some of the first evidence that humans living in the Swiss Alps around 1000 BC were able to produce cheeses.

Researchers examined 30 recovered fragments of pots from six different sites among the European mountains. A chemical analysis revealed that the pots had residues of compounds produced when milk from animals is heated, which is an important part of the cheese-making process.

Even though cheese-making had been documented earlier at lower altitudes, making cheese in the mountains was an impressive feat for our ancestors. “Prehistoric herders would have had to have detailed knowledge of the location of alpine pastures, be able to cope with unpredictable weather and have the technological knowledge to transform milk into a nutritious and storable product,” Francesco Carrer, an archeologist at Newcastle University and lead author of the paper, said in a press release. “Even today, producing cheese in a high mountainous environment requires extraordinary effort.”

Why make cheese? When produced during the summer months and stored, it may have provided a high-protein food source for mountain residents during the winter. As the climate shifted and left less land for crops and livestock, cheese may have also served as a less land-intensive food to produce.

Cheese may have also been an ancient form of bling. “The consumption of dairy products and meat were also integral elements in feasting,” the researchers write. They hypothesize that as social class became an increasingly hierarchical, owning and eating products that were more difficult to make demonstrated affluence.

 

 

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Funnel for beer making from Mijiaya. Image courtesy Jiajing Wang.

Funnel for beer making from Mijiaya. Image courtesy Jiajing Wang.

 

Original Article:

popular-archaeology.com

Archaeologists discover evidence for a 5,000-year-old beer concoction and the earliest known occurrence of barley in China.

Archaeological artifacts from a site in northern China suggest a 5,000-year-old recipe for beer, according to a study*. The time of onset of beer brewing in ancient China remains unclear. Jiajing Wang and colleagues report the discovery of brewing artifacts in two pits dated to around 3400-2900 BC and unearthed at Mijiaya, an archaeological site near a tributary of the Wei River in northern China. Yellowish remnants found in wide-mouthed pots, funnels, and amphorae suggest that the vessels were used for beer brewing, filtration, and storage. Stoves found in the pits likely provided heat for mashing grains. Morphological analysis of starch grains and phytoliths found inside the artifacts revealed broomcorn millets, barley, Job’s tears, and tubers; some starch grains bore marks reminiscent of malting and mashing. The presence of oxalate, a byproduct of beer brewing that was identified using ion chromatography, in some of the artifacts further supported their use as brewing vessels. Together, the lines of evidence suggest that the Yangshao people may have concocted a 5,000-year-old beer recipe that ushered the cultural practice of beer brewing into ancient China. According to the authors, the identification of barley residues in the Mijiaya artifacts represents the earliest known occurrence of barley in China, pushing back the crop’s advent in the country by approximately 1,000 years and suggesting that the crop may have been used as a beer-making ingredient long before it became an agricultural staple.

 

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Vintage: wine press

Vintage: wine press

Original article:

pays.org

by Sean Barton

Archaeologists from the University of Sheffield have uncovered a unique insight into the life of one of the Roman Empire’s most prominent landowners.

Until now, very little was known about Rome’s Imperial leaders aside from their battle triumphs, territorial conquests and monumental legacies.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology investigating the vast Imperial estate of Vagnari in Italy, have now unearthed evidence of wine production on an industrial scale – shedding light on their home life away from the battlefield.

The excavation team discovered the corner of a cella vinaria, a wine fermentation and storage room, in which wine vessels, known as dolia defossa, were fixed into the ground.

The heavy and cumbersome wine vessels have the capacity of more than 1,000 litres and were buried up to their necks in the ground to keep the temperature of the wine constant and cool – a necessary measure in hot climates.

The scale of the wine production provides clear evidence for industrial activities and provides a glimpse into the range of specialist crafts and industries practised by residents – painting a better and more complete picture of life on the Imperial estate and the wealth it provided for its owner.

Maureen Carroll, Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Before we began our work only a small part of the vicus, which is at the heart of the estate and its administrative core, had been explored though the general size and outline of the village had been indicated by geophysics and test-trenching.

“The discovery that lead was being processed here at Vagnari is also particularly revealing about the environment in which the inhabitants of the village lived and potential health risks to which they were exposed.

“Scrap lead found during excavation consisted of roughly torn and cut pieces taken from other objects such as pipes, vessels and tools which had been collected to be re-worked. The substantial amounts of molten lumps of lead and smelting debris show that this activity was intensive.

“Finished lead products include weighs, fishing net weights, and sheet lead clipped into small squares – perhaps handy repair patches for mending tools and containers.”

Vagnari is situated in a valley of the Basentello river, just east of the Apennine mountains in Puglia (ancient Apulia) in south-east Italy.

After the Roman conquest of the region in the 3rd century B.C., Vagnari was linked to Rome by one of Italy’s main Roman roads, the Via Appia.

Excavation and survey by British, Canadian and Italian universities since 2000 have furnished evidence for a large territory that was acquired by the Roman emperor and transformed into imperial landholdings at some point in the early 1st century A.D.

Professor Carroll added: “Few Imperial estates in Italy have been investigated archeologically, so it is particularly gratifying that our investigations at Vagnari will make a significant contribution to the understanding of Roman elite involvement in the exploitation of the environment and control over free and slave labour from the early 1st century AD.

“We now aim to determine how diverse the estate’s economy was, and how the cultivation of vines and wine-making fitted in to the emperor’s wider agricultural and industrial landscape.

“Combining the archaeological and anthropological evidence has the potential to considerably advance our knowledge of health and disease in a rural population of Roman Imperial Italy.”

 

 

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can of Turtle Soup

can of Turtle Soup

 

Original Article:

By  Janene Pieters

nltimes.nl

Construction workers working on the construction of a railway tunnel and parking garage on Phoenixstraat in Delft, recently made a remarkable discovery – an old tin can that used to contain a culinary delicacy: turtle soup, Archaeology Delft announced.

The construction workers first thought they struck gold when they found the shiny can, but it later turned out to be tin with a brass wrap. Still, the can was never intended for an average Joe, according to Archaeology Delft. Turtle soup was considered a massive delicacy, and was served as and was served as an appetizer ath King Wille III’s 70th birthday party in Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam on 23 April 1887.

The label of the can reads in French: “Preserved foods, W. Hoogenstraaten and Sons, purveyor, turtle soup, Leiden. “The soup was therefore of Dutch origin, but was probably sold throughout Europe. French was a common language then”, Bas Penning of Archaeology Delft explained to AD.

The company W. Hoogenstraaten & Co. was founded in Leiden in 1860. In 1900 the company changed its name to Nederlandsche Fabriek van Verduurzaamde Levensmiddelen. Which means that the found can was manufactured somewhere between 1860 and 1900.

 

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