Unwashed Dishes Reveal the Diets of a Lost Civilization


The potsherds yielded proteins from numerous plants—barley, wheat, peas and bitter vetch—as well as the blood and milk of several species of animal, including cows, sheep and goats. Of even greater interest to the researchers was the precision with which they could identify the proteins. They didn’t just see barley, but could identify the specific signature of endosperms, the edible part of the plant. The material was stored in ceramic containers in a way that suggests it was probably used to make some kind of porridge.The milk offered even more insight, as the researchers could distinguish whey from other parts of the liquid—and in one jar they found only whey, indicating the ancient Anatolians were actively transforming the milk into something like cheese or yogurt. “Here we have the earliest insight into people doing this kind of milk processing,” Hendy says. “Researchers have found milk in pottery in earlier times, but what’s exciting about this find and this technique is that we can see actually how people are processing their dairy foods, rather than simply detecting its presence or absence.”

Source: Ancient Proteins From Unwashed Dishes Reveal the Diets of a Lost Civilization | Science | Smithsonian

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