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

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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.

"This pushes back cheese-making by 4,000 years," said Sarah B. McClure, associate professor of anthropology.

The presence of milk in pottery in this area is seen as early as 7,700 years ago, 500 years earlier than fermented products, said the researchers. DNA analysis of the populations in this area indicate that the adults were lactose-intolerant, but the children remained able to consume milk comfortably up to the age of ten.

"First, we have milking around, and it was probably geared for kids because it is a good source of hydration and is relatively pathogen-free," said McClure. "It wouldn't be a surprise for people to give children milk from another mammal."

However, about 500 years later, the researchers see a shift not only from pure milk to fermented products, but also in the style and form of pottery vessels.

"Cheese production is important enough that people are making new types of kitchenware," said McClure. "We are seeing that cultural shift."

When only meat, fish and some milk residue is found in pottery, during the Early Neolithic, the pottery is a style called "Impressed Ware" found throughout the area.

500 years later, in the Middle Neolithic, another pottery style using different technology existed—Danilo pottery—which defines the era in this area and includes plates and bowls. There are three subtypes of Danilo pottery.

Figulina makes up five percent of this type and is highly fired and buff-colored, often slipped and decorated. All this pottery contained milk residue. The other Danilo wares contained animal fats and fresh water fish residue.

Rhyta, which are footed vessels with round bodies and are often animal- or human-shaped, have large openings on the sides and distinctive handles. The researchers found that three of the four rhyta in their sample showed evidence of cheese.

The third category of Danilo ware is sieves, which are often used in cheese-making to strain treated milk when it separates into curds and whey. Three of the four sieves in the sample showed evidence of secondary milk processing into either cheese or other fermented dairy products.

"This is the earliest documented lipid residue evidence for fermented dairy in the Mediterranean region, and among the earliest documented anywhere to date," the researchers report today (Sept. 5) in PLOS One.

The researchers looked at pottery from two sites in Croatia in Dalmatia—Pokrovnik and Danilo Bitinj. When possible, they selected samples from unwashed pottery, but because some pottery forms are rarer, used washed samples for the sieves. They tested the pottery residue for carbon isotopes, which can indicate the type of fat and can distinguish between meat, fish, milk and fermented milk products. They used radiocarbon dating on bone and seeds to determine the pottery's age.

According to the researchers, dairying—and especially cheese and fermented milk products—may have opened northern European areas for farming because it reduced infant mortality and allowed for earlier weaning, decreasing the birth interval and potentially increasing population. It also supplied a storable form of nutrition for adults, because the fermentation of cheese and yogurt reduce the lactose content of milk products, making it palatable for adults as well as children.

With a food source that could buffer the risk of farming in colder northern climates, farmers could expand their territories.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-earliest-mediterranean-cheese-production-revealed.html#jCp

Cheese seems to be pretty big in archaeology, as of late. :)

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202807
 
Cheese seems to be pretty big in archaeology, as of late. :)

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202807

Indeed. There's the papers on dairy use in the ISBA conference list as well, finding dairy residue all the way back in Catalhoyuk and then in the British Neolithic.

"Direct proteomic evidence of early dairying at Çatalhöyük R. Hagan

Çatalhöyük is a key site in understanding early animal domestication in Neolithic Anatolia. Bovine and caprovine faunalremains at Çatalhöyük suggest an increasingly intense exploitation of these animals. It has been argued that bovine remainsfrom the site represent both wild aurochs (Bos primigenius) and domesticated cattle and that sheep formed the primarysource of meat, but whether or not these animals were also exploited for dairying is still debated. Mortality profiling suggeststhat dairying may have been practiced at the site, but direct evidence is lacking. Recent advances in the recovery andidentification of ancient dietary proteins from human dental calculus have shown that proteins specific to dairy milk canpersist through archaeological time. In this study, we investigate direct evidence for the consumption of dairy products atÇatalhöyük by performing LC-MS/MS analysis of dental calculus belonging to individuals excavated from the East Mound.Identification of several milk proteins in dental calculus — including beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-S1-casein—indicates theconsumption of both whey and curd proteins from the genera Bos and Ovis. These results suggest dairy products wereproduced and consumed at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic."

Yet, the lactase persistence gene only dates to around 2,000 BC. I don't really understand why it suddenly appears and then undergoes such strong selection.

""New insights into British Neolithic milk consumptionS. Charlton
There has long been debate over the origins of milk drinking and dairy product consumption within European populations.Whilst it has previously been assumed that lactase persistence (LP) was positively selected for following the advent ofagriculture – as the ability to consume raw milk may have provided a selective advantage due to its nutritional qualities –recent genetic studies of prehistoric human remains have revealed that LP may have only emerged in Europe in the last 4,000years, and that Neolithic populations would likely not have had LP. This is in contrast to organic residue analysis of Neolithicpottery indicating the utilisation of dairy, and zooarchaeological mortality profiles indicative of dairying herds recovered fromNeolithic sites. The recent discovery of the preservation of the milk protein β-lactoglobulin (BLG) in human dental calculushowever presents a new way in which we can explore dairy use in the archaeological past – and provides direct evidence ofmilk consumption. Here, we present the results of proteomic analysis of human dental calculus samples from a number ofBritish Neolithic sites which has revealed the presence of BLG peptides – but in individuals who are unlikely to have had LP.The protein results can help us to explore the use of dairy in the British Neolithic, potential processing of milk by Neolithicpopulations, and possible production of new forms of dairy products.""
 
If I remember well around half of the tested corpses of Chalcolithic Atapuerca?? were already lactose tolerant, for the apparition of this mutation around 2000 BC I would link it with BB expansion rather than by its appearance.
 
PPNB Catal Hoyuk didn't have cattle, only caprines - goat and sheep.
Suddenly, ca 8.5 ka they did have cattle along with pottery, and at the same time the Barcin and Mersin people arrive - autosomally and in Y-DNA similar to the neolithic people of Capadocia and the Konya plain - with cattle and dairy production.
What a coincidence, don't you think?
Ceramic sieves for dairy production was found in LBK.
I think it was this combination that gave the impetus for farmers to move into NW Anatolia and Europe.
 
Yet, the lactase persistence gene only dates to around 2,000 BC. I don't really understand why it suddenly appears and then undergoes such strong selection.
wasn't that the time of the resurgence of WHG in Europe?
could WHG herders have been the first to become lactose persistent?

and wouldn't that have enhanced further growth of haplo I and WHG - as opposed to EEF - when steppe DNA with their cattle traditions arrived in Central Europe?

we have haplo I in Unétice, Urnfield, LN Scandinavia and Globular Amphora

we even have uptill now exclusively haplo I in - megalithic - neolithic Britain
 
wasn't that the time of the resurgence of WHG in Europe?
could WHG herders have been the first to become lactose persistent?


We previously discussed this issue of LP here.
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threa...ic-Spain?highlight=lactase+persistence+Iberia

"I'm not sure how reliable such imputed results might be, but it's really irrelevant to this particular question because if you just go to Table 13 it's clear that in terms of their samples they [Allentoft], found O % of the derived allele in ba Step, Hunter, neol, and paleo. The only place where they found any derived alleles for lactase persistence is in Bronze Age Europe, with a value of .07, which they define as starting with Bell Beaker, and which they moreover seem to see as coming out of Iberia.

So, unless there's something that contradicts this in the body of the paper, or I'm totally misinterpreting the table, it's absolutely incorrect that Allentoft said there were derived alleles for lactase persistence on the steppe and therefore there would be no basis for stating that Yamnaya is the source of lactasepersistence.

I don't know where it originated or the exact direction of spread, but given that it was present in quite a few farmers in Iberia I'd say an argument could be made that it spread from there. Either that or from the EEF Swedish farmers. The 1 Pitted Ware sample might be an anomaly...a spread from farmers, given their genetic population history.

From Jean Manco's table:

Swedish TRB farmers, 3300 BC: 2-4 derived, 4-6 ancestral
San Juan Ante Portan Latinam, Spanish farmers 3000 BC: 10 derived, 28 ancestral
Pitted Ware, 2800 BC: 1 derived, 19 ancestral
Longar Spain, 2500 BC: 2 derived, 12 ancestral

Then in starts with Central European Bell Beaker and then the Bronze Age samples of later European cultures."
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threa...ic-Spain?highlight=lactase+persistence+Iberia

Except for the 1 Pitted Ware sample, these are all farmer groups. Also, didn't Pitted Ware have some admixture from women from farming groups? Am I misremembering?

Perhaps it's the case this was in background variation in WHG relating to something unrelated or was just a neutral mutation, and was then selected for in farmer groups because they had regular access to the milk?

I don't see how it matters. The important thing is that agriculture, as Cavalli Sforza always maintained, pushed evolution in certain directions. We have the example of convergent evolution in Africa for lactase digestibility as well.

I still wonder what changed in terms of selection. In Africa, the people among whom there was strong selection were very heavily pastoralist. That makes sense. That connection is no doubt why people thought it might have started on the steppe, but it seems to appear in far western Europe first instead, at least given what we know so far. Still, given the climate, might there have been less reliance on cereal crops?

Even then, that doesn't seem to gel with data from Liguria, for example, which I know very well. LP is not extremely high in Liguria, certainly not near the levels in northern Europe, although that doesn't stop the Ligurians from eating a lot of cheese. At the same time, they can't grow grains there very easily. The staple ancient diet at least since the Romans was fish, some wild game, some pigs, some goat's milk cheese, greens, chestnuts (from which, when dried, they could make bread and mush and pasta), legumes, olive oil and wine. It was enough to grow very hardy, well respected and even sinewy and muscular albeit very lean and not exceptionally tall warriors.
 
If anyone's interested in a deeper examination of LP alleles, this paper might be of interest: https://www.cell.com/AJHG/abstract/S0002-9297(14)00067-6

There are for major SNPs genotypes associated with LP in modern populations.

AfrianLP.png


In the joining network in paper three of those are shown to be closely related: G-13915 (Arabian), G-13907 (East African Hamito-Semitic pastoralist), T-13910 (European). These probably have a common origin in the Neolithic. I think that's evidence against an origin in WHG.

Then there's the more distant Kenyan C-14010 that occurs in Nilotic, Niger-Congo & Afro-Asiatic speakers and even in the Hadza, suggesting an older presence in Africa.
 
If anyone's interested in a deeper examination of LP alleles, this paper might be of interest: https://www.cell.com/AJHG/abstract/S0002-9297(14)00067-6

There are for major SNPs genotypes associated with LP in modern populations.

AfrianLP.png


In the joining network in paper three of those are shown to be closely related: G-13915 (Arabian), G-13907 (East African Hamito-Semitic pastoralist), T-13910 (European). These probably have a common origin in the Neolithic. I think that's evidence against an origin in WHG.

Then there's the more distant Kenyan C-14010 that occurs in Nilotic, Niger-Congo & Afro-Asiatic speakers and even in the Hadza, suggesting an older presence in Africa.

I'd forgotten the details of this study. Indeed then, if the European allele is closely related to both the Arabian and East African one that would seem to suggest it came to Europe with farmers as background haplotype variation of some sort, perhaps.
 
strange that still no mechanism for LP selection has been identified
you'd think it woud've been an important advantage
 

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