Milk Consumption Dates Back 9,000 Years, Study Says

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November 20, 2016

The consumption of milk dates as far back as 9,000 years ago, according to a new study.

Scientists examined more than 500 prehistoric pieces of pottery with the express purpose of detecting milk residue and animal fat. They found traces of both, suggesting the consumption of milk, and of animal skeletal remains, suggesting the maintaining of domestic animals for meat purposes.

The pottery came from 82 sites around the northern Mediterranean region; remains dated as far back as the 7th Century B.C. and as recent as the 5th Century B.C.

In particular, the researchers found evidence to support the theory that dairying was popular in Neolithic times in what is now France, Spain, and Turkey but not in Greece, where cows were used more for meat.

The study appears in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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