Pottery find suggests oldest cheese-making

Dec. 12, 2012 at 5:27 PM
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BRISTOL, England, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Archaeologists say pottery vessels uncovered in Poland may be the oldest known evidence of the art of cheese making, 7,500 years ago.

Researches writing in the journal Nature say milk extracts discovered on 34 perforated pottery vessels suggests they were used as "cheese-strainers" and is considered evidence for cheese-making in northern Europe during Neolithic times, the BBC reported Wednesday.

"We analyzed some fragments of pottery from the region of Kuyavia [Poland] pierced with small holes that looked like modern cheese-strainers," Melanie Salque, a postgraduate student in the University of Bristol's Department of Chemistry, said.

"However, they could well have been flame covers, chafing dishes, honey strainers or used for beer-making, to strain out chaff," she said.

But analysis of lipid residues on the vessels detected milk residues, suggesting evidence of cheese-making, the researchers said.

"If you then put together the fact that there are milk fats in with the holes in the vessels, along with the size of the vessels and knowing what we know about how milk products are processed, what other milk product could it be?" Bristol Professor Richard Evershed said.

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