Although the consumption of milk became common, it was not universally accepted by the early farmers
An international team of scientists from the University of Bristol has found evidence of milk consumption by adults as far back as the earliest Stone Age, around 7,400 years ago. This was reported in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The researchers directly dated traces of milk fat preserved on the walls of ancient clay vessels made in Central Europe several millennia BC.
To do this, they resorted to a recently developed radiocarbon dating approach based on measuring the ratio of carbon-13 and carbon-12 isotopes contained in purified fatty acid molecules. A total of 4,300 clay vessels from 70 ancient farming settlements belonging to the Neolithic Ceramic Culture were analyzed.
Only 65 percent of archaeological sites have found pottery with milk fat residue. This shows that while milk consumption was becoming common, it was not universally accepted by early farmers. The analysis resulted in 27 radiocarbon dates corresponding to the use of milk in the 6th century BC. Around this time, in the middle of the 6th millennium BC, the earliest settlements with a ceramic culture began to appear.
Thus, the practice of using milk as a product of animal origin arrived in Central Europe, in France, Holland, North-West Germany and Poland together with the first settlers. This allows us to reject the version that the use of milk was adopted gradually at a later time.