The origins of cheese?
From the WSJ in an article titled, "Europe's First Cattle Farmers Quickly Added Cheese to Menu"
Researchers on Wednesday said they found the earliest known chemical evidence of cheese-making, based on the analysis of milk-fat residues in pottery dating back about 7,200 years ....
Scientists led by geochemist Richard Evershed at the U.K.'s University of Bristol tested ancient, perforated clay pots excavated at sites along the Vistula River in Poland, and found they had likely been used by prehistoric cheese mongers as strainers to separate curds and whey—a critical step in making cheese.
Read the rest here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...
Paul Kindstedt, who is mentioned in the last paragraph of the article, discusses the origins of cheese in the first chapter of his book, Cheese and Culture. He traces its origins to the seventh millenium BC, in southwest Asia, in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. He contends that two things were necessary before cheesemaking could take off: first, a surplus of milk; and second, vessels to store milk, curds, and cheese, i.e., pottery. Kindstedt also theorized that ceramic sieves found in archeological digs were likely used to drain the whey from the cheese curds. The scientists at the University of Bristol now appear to have substantiated this hypothesis through chemical analysis. It's not surprising that the perforated pots used for the analysis were found in present-day Poland, since there was a diaspora of southwest Asians from the Fertile Crescent, moving out in several directions, one being through Turkey into central and northern Europe.