Origins of Dairying in Ancient Europe Project
Europe is marked by rich and diverse cheese-making cultures. In this project we are characterizing the European transition from secondary product dairy consumption to modern dietary habits through direct detection of milk products by proteomic, isotopic, and metagenomic analyses of human dental calculus.
Europe is marked by its rich and diverse cheese-making cultures. The unique flavors, textures, and biological processes by which this diversity is achieved have all been codified by Protected Geographical Status for many European cheeses, some of which have been in production for thousands of years. The history of these cheesemaking industries is rooted in an important nutritional source for early Europeans, and set the stage for later adaptations for the consumption of whole milk. Whole milk, unlike many cheeses, has concentrations of the sugar lactose which are high enough to cause health issues for humans who lack the ability to process it efficiently.
This ability is conferred by the persistence of the gene LCT into adulthood, a genetic feature that is highly prevalent in modern Europeans. These separate horizons — the advent of cheesemaking and the later addition of milk consumption — represent what has been called the two-step milk revolution. This project aims to characterize the European transition from secondary product dairy consumption to modern dietary habits through direct detection of milk and milk products by proteomic, isotopic, and metagenomic analyses of human dental calculus.
Hendy J (2016). Archaeological Detection. In Oxford Companion to Cheese. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199330881
Hendy J, Bickle P, Copper M, Charlton S. (2016) Neolithic cheese making: experimental archaeology and public engagement with replica vessels. PAST: The Newsletter of the Prehistoric Society. Nov. 2016
Warinner, Christina, Jessica Hendy, C. Speller, E. Cappellini, R. Fischer, C. Trachsel, J. Arneborg, N. Lynnerup, O.E. Craig, D.M. Swallow, A. Forakis, R.J. Christensen, J.V. Olsen, A. Leibert, N. Montalva, S. Fiddyment, S. Charlton, M. Mackie, A. Canci, A. Bouwman, F. Rühli, M.T.P. Gilbert, and M.J. Collins. 2014 Direct Evidence of Milk Consumption from Ancient Human Dental Calculus. Scientific Reports 7(7104).
Kruettli A, Bouwman A, Akguel G, Della Casa P, Ruehli F, Warinner C (2014). Ancient DNA analysis reveals high frequency of European lactase persistence allele (T-13910) in medieval Central Europe. PLoS ONE 9(1), e86251.