Dairy Residue Found in North African Pottery Shards

Research shows the first dairy drinkers may have come from Northern Africa

North Africans may have been the first to enjoy milk products, according to a study published in Nature. Test results by an archaeological team on pottery shards found in the Acacus mountains in Libya reveal the pieces contained fermented fat from yogurt.

The study’s findings more accurately pinpoint the time at with humans began working dairy products into their diets. Until about 7,000 years ago, humans lived a lactose intolerant lifestyle, lacking the ability to digest milk products.

The process of turning dairy into yogurt may have made the product more easily digestible, said bimolecular archaeologist Richard Evershed who led the study with archeologist Julie Dunne in an interview with Nature.

“They could have consumed milk but it might have made them a little poorly [sick],” said Evershed in the interview. “Perhaps they were processing the milk to lower the lactose content.”

The same team also identified evidence of dairying in pottery fragments from Anatolia dating back nearly 9,000 years, but the more recent pieces show the gene variance necessary for human consumption. Due to the gene variance found in the 7,000 year-old potteries, this discovery actually predates the previous find, according to Nature.

It makes you wonder what it would be like to never be able to enjoy your favorite milkshake or bite into a chocolate fudge sundae. But thanks to the powers that be, we now can enjoy any dairy loaded treat. Well, those of us who aren’t still lactose intolerant at least.

Sean Flynn is a Junior Writer for The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @BuffaloFlynn