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Analysis of fatty residue in pottery from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia revealed evidence of fermented dairy products — soft cheeses and yogurts — from about 7,200 years ago, according to an international team of researchers.

Source: Evidence of 7,200-year-old cheese making found on the Dalmatian Coast

the above article is similar to the post yesterday but I thought it worthwhile to give everyone both to read. JLP

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The dig site where the traces of cheese were found

 

original article:

By Kenneth Macdonald

BBC.com

Scientists have found traces of what they believe is the world’s oldest cheese.

It was made 7,000 years ago in what is now Croatia.

An international team, including Heriot-Watt university researchers, say it led to the transformation of Europe.

It is neither a sturdy cheddar nor a cheeky brie, rather some traces of fatty acids found on fragments of pottery from an archaeological site at Pokrovnik on the Dalmatian coast.

But it is enough for the researchers from Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh and Pennsylvania State universities, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Šibenik City Museum to conclude the sieve-like pottery objects were used for straining curds out of whey to make cheese.

Traces of ancient milk fats have been found before but the new study has used carbon dating to produce a definitive chemical diagnosis that the Pokrovnik samples are from the cheese making process.

The team says their discovery means humans were making cheese 2,000 years earlier than previously thought, pushing the date back from the Bronze Age to the Neolithic era.

Cheese making was a breakthrough technology which transformed humanity.

More portable and longer lasting than liquid milk, it enabled early farming to spread into cooler central and northern areas.

Dr Clayton Magill, a research fellow at the Heriot-Watt’s Lyell Centre, says the discovery is both astounding and delightful.

‘Reduced infant mortality’

He is sure cheese lovers everywhere will be interested to find out more about the origins and antiquity of their cheese.

“We know that the consumption of milk and dairy products would have had many advantages for early farming populations because milk, yogurt and cheese are a good source of calories, protein and fat,” Dr Magill said.

“They could have even been reliable food between harvests or during droughts and famines.”

Previous archaeological finds have offered tantalising clues that humans made cheese in the New Stone Age.

Some Neolithic objects have been tentatively identified as strainers or cheese graters but this is the first direct evidence that milk was being fermented.

Pennsylvania State’s associate professor of anthropology Dr Sarah McClure says that while young children of the era could drink milk, many adult farmers were lactose intolerant.

Cheese changed that because adults could digest it.

“We suggest that milk and cheese production among Europe’s early farmers reduced infant mortality,” Dr McClure says, “and helped stimulate demographic shifts that propelled farming communities to expand to northern latitudes.”

How cheese was first produced is lost in prehistory. One theory is that before pottery vessels were developed, milk was stored in bladders made from animals’ stomachs. The rennet in the skins would have reacted with the milk to create curds and whey.

 

 

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In the necropolis of Saqqara, Egypt, researchers discovered a broken jar containing what appeared to be a hunk of 3,300-year-old cheese — possibly the oldest known cheese in the world.
Credit: Courtesy of Enrico Greco, University of Catania, Italy

 

Original article:

Livescience.com

By Brandon Specktor,

 

If you are still disappointed about being denied the opportunity to drink the toxic red mummy juice unearthed in Egypt last month, we have some good news for you. Researchers have just discovered the world’s oldest cheese (also in Saqqara, Egypt), and it is almost certainly cursed… or at least contaminated.

The cheese in question was discovered among a large cache of broken clay jars inside the tomb of Ptahmes, former mayor of Memphis (ancient Egypt, not Tennessee) and a high-ranking official during the reigns of pharaohs Seti I and Ramesses II. The tomb is thought to have been built in the 13th century B.C., making it — and the cheese within — about 3,300 years old.

Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy and Cairo University in Egypt stumbled upon the cache during an excavation mission in 2013-14. Inside one of the fragmented jars, they noticed a powdery, “solidified whitish mass,” according to a study published online July 25 in the journal Analytical Chemistry. Nearby, they found a scrap of canvas fabric that was likely used to preserve and cover the ancient blob of food. The texture of this fabric suggested that the food had been solid when it was interred alongside Ptahmes a few millennia ago — in other words, the find probably wasn’t a jar of ancient spoiled milk.

To be sure about this, the researchers cut the cheese and took a small sample back to the chemistry lab for analysis. There, the team dissolved the sample in a special solution to isolate the specific proteins inside. The analysis revealed that the cheese sample contained five separate proteins commonly found in Bovidae milk (milk from cows, sheep, goats or buffalo), two of which were exclusive to cow’s milk. The researchers concluded that the sample was probably a “cheese-like product” made from a mixture of cow’s milk and either goat or sheep milk.

“The present sample represents the oldest solid cheese so far discovered,” the researchers wrote in their study.

Of course, this being mummy cheese, there must be a curse attached, right? In this case, that curse might just be a nasty foodborne infection. According to the team’s protein analysis, the cheese also contained a protein associated with Brucella melitensis, a bacterium that causes the highly contagious disease brucellosis. The disease is commonly spread from bovine animals to humans through unpasteurized milk and contaminated meat. Symptoms include severe fever, nausea, vomiting and various other nasty gastrointestinal ailments.

If the cheese is indeed infected with Brucella bacteria, that makes the find the “first biomolecular direct evidence of this disease during the pharaonic period,” the researchers wrote. Further study is required to say for sure whether the protein in question came from a contaminated animal, but in the meantime, we offer this obligatory disclaimer: Please, do not eat the mummy cheese.

 

 

 

 

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Researchers pack the shaft at Augusta Raurica with snow. File photo: Peter-Andrew Schwarz

 

Original article:

Thelocal.ch

 

 

Archaeologists near the Swiss city of Basel are trying to definitively establish if mysterious shafts discovered at Switzerland’s extensive Augusta Raurica site in 2013 could have been ancient refrigerators.

The Romans used shafts like the four-metre deep examples at Augusta Raurica – some 20 kilometres from Basel – as cool stores during summer.

The shafts were filled with snow and ice during winter and then covered with straw to keep the space cool well into the summer months. This then allowed for everything from cheese to wine – and even oysters – to be preserved during warm weather.

Now a team lead by Peter-Andrew Schwarz from the University of Basel is attempting, for the third time, to demonstrate that the Augusta Raurica shafts were indeed used as fridges, Swiss news agency SDA/ATS reports.

A first attempt to recreate the ancient cool box failed after archaeologists at the dig filed the shaft with snow all in one go. But that experiment showed temperatures in the shaft were above freezing point even in winter.

The second try was more successful: the shaft was gradually filled with snow and ice blocks were placed inside as well. Using these methods, snow remained until June.

Now, however, researchers plan to use methods developed by the so-called ‘nevaters’ or ice-makers on the Spanish island of Majorca. This will see Schwarz and his team placing 20–30-centimetre-thick layers of snow into the shaft. These individual layers will then be compacted down with a straw cover placed on top of each one.

“With this method, people in Majorca could keep food cool in summer before the arrival of electric fridges,” Schwarz told regional daily Basler Zeitung in 2017.

Work at the site of the ‘fridge’ will continue until Friday with the dig open to the public.

The experiment won’t prove that the mysterious shaft was actually a Roman fridge but will show that this is possible, Schwarz told the SDA/ATS news agency.

A final evaluation will be made in August.

 

 

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Original article:

Thelocal.se

Diver Jerry Wilhelmsson was out looking for a different shipwreck altogether off the south coast of the Åland islands (Finland’s autonomous Swedish-speaking islands between Stockholm and Helsinki) when he came across an incredible discovery. Sitting in front of him at a shallow depth was an unusually well-preserved 27 metre long shipwreck, complete with anchor, figurehead and hundreds of unopened bottles.

Wilhelmsson and his diving team Baltic Underwater Explorers now have permission to take some of the bottles back up to the surface in the hope that analysis will provide an explanation for where the mysterious wreck came from.

“It’s quite rare to find a wreck in this condition with cargo intact at a relatively shallow depth,” Magnus Melin of Baltic Underwater Explorers told The Local.

“The coolest thing must be the cargo hold with all the bottles. But the whole relatively small wreck, which has a figurehead, is very interesting. To me, the ship itself and its (currently unknown) story are the most interesting things.”

READ ALSO: Why Sweden’s famous Vasa shipwreck is getting a makeover

Speaking to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, marine archaeologist Marcus Lindholm speculated that the ship’s style suggests it dates from between 1850 and 1870.

But a better way to know for certain is to analyze the contents of some of the hundreds of bottles still sitting unopened in cargo boxes on the wreck.

“We have contact with the local authorities and they’ll come up with a plan on how to continue. Initially some of the bottles will be salvaged to analyze their content,” diver Melin explained.

“We don’t know at the moment what will happen after that, but more non-destructive documentation will be done to identify the wreck.”

Story continues below…

The waters in and around Sweden’s Baltic coast are something of a hotbed for shipwreck finds.

In April, two shipwrecks dating back to at least the 1600s were found in central Stockholm next to the island of Skeppsholmen, once again by chance when divers were examining the seabed before a boating race.

And on a smellier note, in July Swedish scientists discovered what they believe to be 340-year-old cheese on board the wreck of the royal ship Kronan in the waters near Baltic island Öland.

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The ship’s figurehead. Photo: Jerry Wilhelmsson

 

 

 

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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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Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Swiss cheesemaking dates back to prehistoric times, paving the way for such delicacies as Gruyere and Emmental.

Source: Iron age man was as fond of Swiss cheese as we are

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