Cheese Making History

Cheese-making classes may be all the rage today, but cheese making is nothing new. In fact, recent evidence found at an archaeological site in Poland reveals just how old this tradition might be.

Shards of pottery with holes punctured in it, dating back 7,000 years, were found to have residue of milk lipids. This sign of dairy processing suggests that Neolithic farmers were using the pottery to separate curds from whey.

Prior to this discovery, cheese making was only known as far back as 4,000 years ago, based on archaeological evidence from Egyptian murals, which appear to depict the cheese-making process. Although archaeologists had previously found pottery dating back even further that appeared to be used as strainers, they did not have evidence of its use. Advances in the technique of detecting milk lipids on artifacts is what led to this most recent discovery.

Aside from making milk easier to keep and transport, cheese was most likely a way for people of this time to consume the milk. Researchers point out that people living in that area at that time would have been largely lactose intolerant. Cheese would have been a way to reduce the lactose and provide a sustainable source of protein for these early farmers.