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Thread: Cuisine of early farmers revealed by analysis of proteins in pottery from Çatalhöyük

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    Cuisine of early farmers revealed by analysis of proteins in pottery from Çatalhöyük



    An international team led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of York has uncovered details about the diet of early farmers in the central Anatolian settlement of Çatalhöyük. By analyzing proteins from residues in ancient pots and jars excavated from the site, the researchers found evidence of foods that were eaten there. Although previous studies have looked at pot residues from the site, this was the first to use proteins, which can be used to identify plants and animals more specifically. Using this new approach, the team determined that vessels from this early farming site in central Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, contained cereals, legumes, dairy products and meat. In some cases, the researchers could narrow down food items to specific species.

    Çatalhöyük was a large settlement inhabited from about 7100 BC to 5600 BC by early farmers, and is located in what is now central Turkey. The site showcases a fascinating layout in which houses were built directly next to each other in every direction, and stands out for its excellent preservation of finds. After over 25 years of excavation and analysis, it is considered one of the best-researched early farming sites in the Old World.

    For this study, the researchers analyzed vessel sherds from the West Mound of Çatalhöyük, dating to a narrow timeframe of 5900-5800 BC, toward the end of the site's occupation. The vessel shards came from open bowls and jars, as shown by reconstruction, and had calcified residues on the inner surfaces. In this region today, limescale residue on the inside of cooking pots is very common. The researchers used state-of-the-art protein analyses on samples taken from the ceramics, including the residue deposits, to determine what the vessels held.

    The analysis revealed that the vessels contained grains, legumes, meat and dairy products. The dairy products were shown to have come mostly from sheep and goats, and also from bovines. While bones from these animals are found across the site and earlier lipid analyses have identified milk fats in vessels, this is the first time researchers have identified which animals were actually being used for their milk. In line with the plant remains found, the cereals included barley and wheat, and the legumes included peas and vetches. The non-dairy animal products, which might have included meat and blood, came primarily from goats and sheep, and in some cases, from bovines and deer. Interestingly, many of the pots contain evidence of multiple food types in a single vessel, suggesting that the residents mixed foods in their cuisine, potentially as porridges or soups, or that some vessels were used sequentially for different food items, or both.

    However, one particular vessel, a jar, only had evidence for dairy products in the form of proteins found in the whey portion of milk. "This is particularly interesting because it suggests that the residents may have been using dairy production methods that separated fresh milk into curds and whey. It also suggests that they had a special vessel for holding the whey afterward, meaning that they used the whey for additional purposes after the curd was separated," says lead author Jessica Hendy of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. These results show that dairy farming has been ongoing in this area since at least the sixth millennium BC, and that people used the milk of multiple species including cows, sheep and goats.

    However, the researchers emphasize that based on the archaeological record, an even greater variety of foods, especially plant foods, was likely eaten at Çatalhöyük. These were either not contained in the vessels they studied, or are not present in the databases they use to identify proteins. The "shotgun" proteomic approaches used by the researchers are heavily dependent on reference sequence databases, and many plant species are not represented or have limited representation. "For example, there are only six protein sequences for vetch in the databases. For wheat, there are almost 145,000," explains Hendy. "An important aspect of future work will need to be expanding these databases with more reference sequences."

    Other molecular techniques applied to ancient pottery can reveal broad classes of food such as evidence of dairy or animal fat, but an analysis of proteins allows a much more detailed picture of past cuisine. The results of this study show the power of protein analyses, which can identify foodstuffs in situ down to the species level in samples as old as 8000 years. In particular, the residues on the insides of the ceramics were exceptionally well-preserved and contained a wealth of information. The removal of these residues is a common practice among archaeologists as part of the preservation and cleaning process. "These results highlight how valuable these deposits can be, and we encourage colleagues to retain them during post-excavation processing and cleaning," states Eva Rosenstock of the Freie Universität Berlin and the senior author of the study.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-cuisin...lysis.html#jCp

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    An international team led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of York has uncovered details about the diet of early farmers in the central Anatolian settlement of Çatalhöyük. By analyzing proteins from residues in ancient pots and jars excavated from the site, the researchers found evidence of foods that were eaten there. Although previous studies have looked at pot residues from the site, this was the first to use proteins, which can be used to identify plants and animals more specifically. Using this new approach, the team determined that vessels from this early farming site in central Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, contained cereals, legumes, dairy products and meat. In some cases, the researchers could narrow down food items to specific species.

    Çatalhöyük was a large settlement inhabited from about 7100 BC to 5600 BC by early farmers, and is located in what is now central Turkey. The site showcases a fascinating layout in which houses were built directly next to each other in every direction, and stands out for its excellent preservation of finds. After over 25 years of excavation and analysis, it is considered one of the best-researched early farming sites in the Old World.

    For this study, the researchers analyzed vessel sherds from the West Mound of Çatalhöyük, dating to a narrow timeframe of 5900-5800 BC, toward the end of the site's occupation. The vessel shards came from open bowls and jars, as shown by reconstruction, and had calcified residues on the inner surfaces. In this region today, limescale residue on the inside of cooking pots is very common. The researchers used state-of-the-art protein analyses on samples taken from the ceramics, including the residue deposits, to determine what the vessels held.

    The analysis revealed that the vessels contained grains, legumes, meat and dairy products. The dairy products were shown to have come mostly from sheep and goats, and also from bovines. While bones from these animals are found across the site and earlier lipid analyses have identified milk fats in vessels, this is the first time researchers have identified which animals were actually being used for their milk. In line with the plant remains found, the cereals included barley and wheat, and the legumes included peas and vetches. The non-dairy animal products, which might have included meat and blood, came primarily from goats and sheep, and in some cases, from bovines and deer. Interestingly, many of the pots contain evidence of multiple food types in a single vessel, suggesting that the residents mixed foods in their cuisine, potentially as porridges or soups, or that some vessels were used sequentially for different food items, or both.

    However, one particular vessel, a jar, only had evidence for dairy products in the form of proteins found in the whey portion of milk. "This is particularly interesting because it suggests that the residents may have been using dairy production methods that separated fresh milk into curds and whey. It also suggests that they had a special vessel for holding the whey afterward, meaning that they used the whey for additional purposes after the curd was separated," says lead author Jessica Hendy of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. These results show that dairy farming has been ongoing in this area since at least the sixth millennium BC, and that people used the milk of multiple species including cows, sheep and goats.

    However, the researchers emphasize that based on the archaeological record, an even greater variety of foods, especially plant foods, was likely eaten at Çatalhöyük. These were either not contained in the vessels they studied, or are not present in the databases they use to identify proteins. The "shotgun" proteomic approaches used by the researchers are heavily dependent on reference sequence databases, and many plant species are not represented or have limited representation. "For example, there are only six protein sequences for vetch in the databases. For wheat, there are almost 145,000," explains Hendy. "An important aspect of future work will need to be expanding these databases with more reference sequences."

    Other molecular techniques applied to ancient pottery can reveal broad classes of food such as evidence of dairy or animal fat, but an analysis of proteins allows a much more detailed picture of past cuisine. The results of this study show the power of protein analyses, which can identify foodstuffs in situ down to the species level in samples as old as 8000 years. In particular, the residues on the insides of the ceramics were exceptionally well-preserved and contained a wealth of information. The removal of these residues is a common practice among archaeologists as part of the preservation and cleaning process. "These results highlight how valuable these deposits can be, and we encourage colleagues to retain them during post-excavation processing and cleaning," states Eva Rosenstock of the Freie Universität Berlin and the senior author of the study.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-cuisin...lysis.html#jCp
    Well, there's no doubt now that Anatolians were consuming dairy from a very early period, from cows as well as sheep and goats, and irrespective of the fact that they didn't have the common, modern LP gene.

    Either they cooked it in such a way as to get rid of a lot of the lactase, or they had some other genetic protection against the possible unpleasant side effects.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, there's no doubt now that Anatolians were consuming dairy from a very early period, from cows as well as sheep and goats, and irrespective of the fact that they didn't have the common, modern LP gene.

    Either they cooked it in such a way as to get rid of a lot of the lactase, or they had some other genetic protection against the possible unpleasant side effects.
    Maybe it was not consumed as fresh milk but in a form of yogurt which is very low in lactose. Yogurt is a stable food in the area (even if these farmers were not genetically similar to today's populations of the area). They use it as a sauce, drink, and sieved into thick forms of Yogurt like the Greek one and Lebne in the middle east. It would have been very hard to preserve Fresh Milk for more then a few hours in hotter climates so I would imagine that Milk would have fermented rather quickly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, there's no doubt now that Anatolians were consuming dairy from a very early period, from cows as well as sheep and goats, and irrespective of the fact that they didn't have the common, modern LP gene.

    Either they cooked it in such a way as to get rid of a lot of the lactase, or they had some other genetic protection against the possible unpleasant side effects.
    weren't the 8,6 ka Barcin/Mentese/Fikirtepe folks raising cattle for milk production ?
    cattle and pottery were introduced in Catal Hoyuk ca 8.5 ka, around the same time period
    I guess they used the same ceramic sieves that were found in LBK Poland

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    weren't the 8,6 ka Barcin/Mentese/Fikirtepe folks raising cattle for milk production ?
    cattle and pottery were introduced in Catal Hoyuk ca 8.5 ka, around the same time period
    I guess they used the same ceramic sieves that were found in LBK Poland
    It appears so. I think probably the only difference would be the ratio of cow milk versus that of other domestic animals. That would depend on terrain, amount of pasturage etc. There was a difference in the Balkans based on those kinds of factors. The early farmers brought their whole "package" with them, i.e. domestic animals and techniques as well.

    Amazing how many old ideas are being overturned so quickly.

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    I dont think Lactase and Gluten Tolerance are related to be a farmer and neolithic. Today a lot of people are eating those without having the genes for persistence. Probably that for those people, having a diarrhae here and there wasn't an alarming issue, it could happen from a lot of things at those times, seeknes, contaminated water, malnutrition...

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    I dont think Lactase and Gluten Tolerance are related to be a farmer and neolithic. Today a lot of people are eating those without having the genes for persistence. Probably that for those people, having a diarrhae here and there wasn't an alarming issue, it could happen from a lot of things at those times, seeknes, contaminated water, malnutrition...
    There must have been a lot of trial and error depending on food availability. By time, choosing the best practice in regards to side effects and their reaction on general health. Todays Wheat is highly selected and contains much higher gluten content than the original wild wheat that was first cultivated. Same can be said for fruits and vegetables. Also the tamest of animals were chosen such as Goats and sheep

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    The early farmers brought their whole "package" with them, i.e. domestic animals and techniques as well.
    It seems that the moment the package was complete, the expansion started immeadiately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    Maybe it was not consumed as fresh milk but in a form of yogurt which is very low in lactose. Yogurt is a stable food in the area (even if these farmers were not genetically similar to today's populations of the area). They use it as a sauce, drink, and sieved into thick forms of Yogurt like the Greek one and Lebne in the middle east. It would have been very hard to preserve Fresh Milk for more then a few hours in hotter climates so I would imagine that Milk would have fermented rather quickly.
    We shouldn't forget the fact that kids can drink milk in pure form with no problems, and most population of villages were kids. It means that having access to milk could feed half of needed calories to the always hungry kids. And this was huge help. Goats can graze on anything, even old dry grass in times of a draught, and give milk. Perhaps this was the main reason of domestication of goats and sheep and not the meat. After all men could hunt for meat, but you can't milk wild animals.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    It seems that the moment the package was complete, the expansion started immeadiately.
    Well, it made them almost self-sufficient so long as the climate wasn't too different: seeds, different kinds of animals, the technology to exploit it.

    They did get stopped for a long time at a certain latitude in Europe.

    It would be interesting to know what they made from the milk with those specialized "tools". You would think yoghurt or cheese, but it would have to be consumed really quickly in warmer climates or you could get really sick.

    The whey, if it isn't "reboiled" and made into ricotta like cheese, even today is fed to the animals. Nothing goes to waste.

    I've seen videos saying how easy it is to make cheese, but how did they first figure out that rennet added to milk and the mixture heated, along with a few other steps, would make cheese?

    Plus, not everybody finds it so easy to make cheese even with a recipe and directions. :)




    I don't remember anything more about that eastern steppe cheese that had no lactose, i.e. how it was made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    We shouldn't forget the fact that kids can drink milk in pure form with no problems, and most population of villages were kids. It means that having access to milk could feed half of needed calories to the always hungry kids. And this was huge help. Goats can graze on anything, even old dry grass in times of a draught, and give milk. Perhaps this was the main reason of domestication of goats and sheep and not the meat. After all men could hunt for meat, but you can't milk wild animals.
    Thats a good point. The nutrition (health) could make populations grow larger and expand (new settlements) inheriting best practices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, it made them almost self-sufficient so long as the climate wasn't too different: seeds, different kinds of animals, the technology to exploit it.

    They did get stopped for a long time at a certain latitude in Europe.
    If not mistaken these farmers entered Europe (South) soon after the Younger dryas? Thats when land became more suitable for the traditional farming due to warming of temperature. Although going up to central Europe would have been a completely different type of terrain (much more forest) and new methods and new crops could have been introduced? not sure just assuming.

    It would be interesting to know what they made from the milk with those specialized "tools". You would think yoghurt or cheese, but it would have to be consumed really quickly in warmer climates or you could get really sick.
    unpasteurized fermented milk would turn to yougurt which is good for you. The good bacteria will kill lactose and apparently it has many health benefits (probiotics). Its fermented pasteurized milk that makes you very sick because the good bacteria is killed during the pasteurization process. Its the so called bad bacteria that takes over when pasteurized milk goes off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    If not mistaken these farmers entered Europe (South) soon after the Younger dryas? Thats when land became more suitable for the traditional farming due to warming of temperature. Although going up to central Europe would have been a completely different type of terrain (much more forest) and new methods and new crops could have been introduced? not sure just assuming.



    unpasteurized fermented milk would turn to yougurt which is good for you. The good bacteria will kill lactose and apparently it has many health benefits (probiotics). Its fermented pasteurized milk that makes you very sick because the good bacteria is killed during the pasteurization process. Its the so called bad bacteria that takes over when pasteurized milk goes off.
    From what I know, unpasteurized milk can be quite dangerous.

    "Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.These harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk, or eats foods made from raw milk. However, the bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. In fact, the CDC analysis found that foodborne illness from raw milk especially affected children and teenagers."
    https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesfo.../ucm079516.htm

    As the article says, raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E.Coli, and Listeria. In Victorian times it was the vector for transmission of typhoid and tuberculosis, bovine and human. Part of the terrible child mortality was due to early weaning and the consumption of cow's milk by children. There's a reason why pasteurization laws were passed. Of course, if these farmers were careful about being clean and the milk was drunk right away, the risks would be less.

    I have no idea if making yoghurt gets rid of all of that. The boiling of the milk to make cheese would certainly help.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    From what I know, unpasteurized milk can be quite dangerous.

    "Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.These harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk, or eats foods made from raw milk. However, the bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. In fact, the CDC analysis found that foodborne illness from raw milk especially affected children and teenagers."
    https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesfo.../ucm079516.htm

    As the article says, raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E.Coli, and Listeria. In Victorian times it was the vector for transmission of typhoid and tuberculosis, bovine and human. Part of the terrible child mortality was due to early weaning and the consumption of cow's milk by children. There's a reason why pasteurization laws were passed. Of course, if these farmers were careful about being clean and the milk was drunk right away, the risks would be less.

    I have no idea if making yoghurt gets rid of all of that. The boiling of the milk to make cheese would certainly help.



    indeed but it was only out breaks and not a regular thing with the harmful bacteria through unpasteurized Milk. Generally speaking (apart from outbreaks which lead to the pasteurization for general safety) is of the good type that produce many benefits on the human immune system better digestion and so on. Also people at this time were not much aware of such things and would have naturally built a resistance to a number of what otherwise could be fatal diseases through time.

    https://www.webmd.com/digestive-diso...e-probiotics#1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, it made them almost self-sufficient so long as the climate wasn't too different: seeds, different kinds of animals, the technology to exploit it.
    They did get stopped for a long time at a certain latitude in Europe.
    when the expansion started 8.6 ka, they just got the full package and everything was fine
    then the 8.2 ka climate event came and the migration into Europe accelerated
    by 7.7 ka Catal Hoyuk was abandonned and by 7.6 the LBK took of from Hungary
    IMO the LBK were the last Anatolian farmers coming from their Anatolian homeland, after that there were no more proper Anatolian farmers left in Anatolia
    the LBK folks moved very fast, but they were the ones that absorbed the least WHG, indicating they came straight from Anatolia

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    If not mistaken these farmers entered Europe (South) soon after the Younger dryas? Thats when land became more suitable for the traditional farming due to warming of temperature. Although going up to central Europe would have been a completely different type of terrain (much more forest) and new methods and new crops could have been introduced? not sure just assuming.
    no, not correct
    PPNA, the frist agriculture started after the youngest dryas, 11.5 ka
    first agriculture arrived in Greece ca 9 ka, with first pottery, but it were not the Anatolian EEF farmers, who did not have pottery
    Anatolian farmers got pottery 8,6 ka and that is when their first moves started, into the Bosporus area, and 8.3 ka into Bulgaria

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    no, not correct
    PPNA, the frist agriculture started after the youngest dryas, 11.5 ka
    first agriculture arrived in Greece ca 9 ka, with first pottery, but it were not the Anatolian EEF farmers, who did not have pottery
    Anatolian farmers got pottery 8,6 ka and that is when their first moves started, into the Bosporus area, and 8.3 ka into Bulgaria
    interesting. This article says that some of the first farmers in Greece arrived from Anatolia, but probably a different branch.

    Reich and his colleagues' work suggests that about three-quarters of the ancestry of both peoples derives from the first farmers of the Aegean Sea, including western Anatolia (a region that lies within modern day Turkey)

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0802134718.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    interesting. This article says that some of the first farmers in Greece arrived from Anatolia, but probably a different branch.

    Reich and his colleagues' work suggests that about three-quarters of the ancestry of both peoples derives from the first farmers of the Aegean Sea, including western Anatolia (a region that lies within modern day Turkey)

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0802134718.htm
    I guess they are refering to the Diros Cave samples who had more Iran Neo ancestry.
    First pottery was found in the northern Zagros Mountains, and that is probably the origin of the 9 ka farmers into SW Anatolia, Crete and Greece.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    I guess they are refering to the Diros Cave samples who had more Iran Neo ancestry.
    First pottery was found in the northern Zagros Mountains, and that is probably the origin of the 9 ka farmers into SW Anatolia, Crete and Greece.
    very interesting, its great to see a more clear pattern of migrations emerging through more detailed studies and discoveries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maleth View Post
    very interesting, its great to see a more clear pattern of migrations emerging through more detailed studies and discoveries.
    yes, we can see more and more

    the complexity does not decrease, but that is not because the vision remains blurred, it is because we notice every time more details which we were ignorent of before

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    I'm mainly of neolithic europe ancestry ( according to gedmatch ) and i'm intolerant to lactose and gluten. Why everything have to be so complicated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, there's no doubt now that Anatolians were consuming dairy from a very early period, from cows as well as sheep and goats, and irrespective of the fact that they didn't have the common, modern LP gene.

    Either they cooked it in such a way as to get rid of a lot of the lactase, or they had some other genetic protection against the possible unpleasant side effects.
    However, just following the section you emphasized:

    However, the researchers emphasize that based on the archaeological record, an even greater variety of foods, especially plant foods, was likely eaten at Çatalhöyük. These were either not contained in the vessels they studied, or are not present in the databases they use to identify proteins.
    Lactase persistence in adults would not confer any evolutionary advantage in a sedentary agricultural society relying primarily on grains and legumes for nutrition. That doesn't mean that infants and children weren't fed milk from goats, sheep, and bovines as a supplement to "mother's milk". The advantage, among adults, would only have accrued as part of the development of mobile pastoral societies. It would be logical to assume that dairy production preceded, rather than followed from, the development of wide-scale lactase persistence in adults.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyDonkey View Post
    However, just following the section you emphasized:



    Lactase persistence in adults would not confer any evolutionary advantage in a sedentary agricultural society relying primarily on grains and legumes for nutrition. That doesn't mean that infants and children weren't fed milk from goats, sheep, and bovines as a supplement to "mother's milk". The advantage, among adults, would only have accrued as part of the development of mobile pastoral societies. It would be logical to assume that dairy production preceded, rather than followed from, the development of wide-scale lactase persistence in adults.
    I agree.

    For example, the steppe pastoralists, the Yamnaya, whom so many thought would have had and spread the LP gene, didn't have it. Perhaps it was because they weren't farmers first, who would have learned to milk the animals and make cheese? It does show up later in Bell Beaker people

    Interestingly, African pastoralists do have some versions of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I agree.

    For example, the steppe pastoralists, the Yamnaya, whom so many thought would have had and spread the LP gene, didn't have it. Perhaps it was because they weren't farmers first, who would have learned to milk the animals and make cheese? It does show up later in Bell Beaker people

    Interestingly, African pastoralists do have some versions of it.
    the Cushites drank milk when they arrived in Africa from the Levant
    the Cushites were herders + hunters + fishers, they practiced very little agriculture
    I guess roaming around on the Green Sahara was more interesting than practicing settled agriculture

    the Nilotes and the Bantu seem to have taken over lactase persistence almost instantly

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    We shouldn't forget the fact that kids can drink milk in pure form with no problems, and most population of villages were kids. It means that having access to milk could feed half of needed calories to the always hungry kids. And this was huge help. Goats can graze on anything, even old dry grass in times of a draught, and give milk. Perhaps this was the main reason of domestication of goats and sheep and not the meat. After all men could hunt for meat, but you can't milk wild animals.
    And it would have freed mothers from having to constantly nurse their babies, allowing them to participate more fully in the agricultural economy, untethered, if you will, passing on child feeding duties to grandmothers, great aunts, etc.

    People might have consumed food that caused unpleasant side-effects, if the overall nutritional benefit compensated for the discomfort.

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