Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Earth Science

Humans Have Been Eating Cheese For At Least 7,500 Years 214

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have found conclusive evidence for the first time that humans have been making cheese since the 6th millennium BC."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Humans Have Been Eating Cheese For At Least 7,500 Years

Comments Filter:
  • Wow. (Score:4, Funny)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:55PM (#42279399) Journal

    Thanks. That question has been keeping me up nights.

  • by colin_faber ( 1083673 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:55PM (#42279401)
    for many many eons. :)
  • Okay, but when did they figure out how to make pizza?

    • by WebManWalking ( 1225366 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @06:09PM (#42280605)
      It was prophesied somewhere in the first 6 books of the Aeneid that Aeneas and his men would someday be so hungry, they would eat their plates.

      Somewhere in the second 6 books, there came a time, after a battle or something, when they had broken all their dinnerware. Someone had the idea to flatten out some dough, put the food on top of it and cook them all together, baking the bread and cooking the food at the same time. While they were eating, Aeneas' son Iulus said hey look everybody, we're eating our plates! Most thought it was just a joke and laughed, but the elders didn't laugh. They were amazed and recognized it as the fulfillment of prophesy made before Iulus was born.

      So when you're in Italy and you hear of some restaurant claiming to have invented pizza in medieval times, be sure to ask them, really? How was it that Virgil was able to discuss something that your restaurant hadn't invented yet? Or something similarly snarky.
    • Pretty much every culture has its version of the pancake [], and has had it or variations of it for millennia. Pancakes in its various iterations is one of the oldest recipes out there (sorry I couldn't find the reference off two minutes of googling, but it's basically contemporary with agriculture itself if memory serves). Thus, you can be pretty sure someone tried pancakes with cheese in an oh-so-unmodern way. It's not exactly pizza, but it's pretty close.

  • Ob... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mrsquid0 ( 1335303 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:57PM (#42279435) Homepage

    Blessed are the cheese makers.

    • Re:Ob... (Score:5, Funny)

      by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:34PM (#42280051) Homepage

      It's not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturer of dairy products

    • Since you are paraphrasing Jesus, just think, anything he said was already 3/4 of the way from 7500 years ago until now. I find it hard to wrap my mind around how long people were sentient beings with fully developed social interactions (and cheese!) before they figured out writing and "history" began.
      • Re:Ob... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 13, 2012 @06:49PM (#42281281) Journal

        Oh I wouldn't be surprised if some day they trip over a cave in the middle of nowhere and find proto-writing that dates a hell of a lot farther back. The problem is what was most likely used was red ochre which was the first easily gathered pigment. We know this because we have found red ochre dust in ancient graves. Problem is that red ochre chips and flakes off quite easily so if you want writing to last thousands of years that ain't the stuff to be using for the paint.

        But you can take a little kid, barely able to walk and talk, hand him some finger paints and he is gonna start drawing showing that the creative spark to express is about as natural as breathing to the human animal. Since all proto-writing started off as crude shapes that represented real world objects that simply got more abstract as time went on and it was used more then if humans have a natural desire to create and express it is logical to think they would have started as soon as they had paint. Even the cave drawings we have found seem to be depicting stories, such as hunts or great battles, so who is to say there isn't some cave we haven't found yet with the first primitive writing going back long before when we thought it started?

        • Re:Ob... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @06:58PM (#42281399)
          You just reminded me of a relevant anecdote about cave paintings []:

          The work of other artists didn't often reduce Pablo Picasso to a state of utter humility, but that's exactly what happened just after World War II, when he was mucking about in a cave in southwestern France. This wasn't just any cave, however -- its walls were festooned with striking pictures of horses and bulls that date from the Ice Age, all rendered with exquisite sophistication and symbolic force. Upon exiting the cave, an awed Picasso declared, "We have learned nothing in twelve thousand years."

          • Re:Ob... (Score:5, Funny)

            by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @07:45PM (#42282047) Homepage Journal

            This bit is pretty funny

            The art in this cave -- called Lascaux, the Sistine Chapel of cave art -- and in many others that dot parts of France and Spain deservedly ranks with the greatest masterworks of Western art. Yet these paintings have provoked as much vexed speculation as they have wonder and awe: What was their purpose? Why are there so many pictures of animals? The painters had many colors at their disposal, but why do black and red dominate? Why are there no pictures of sky, moon or trees? What are the strange geometric signs found in many of the caves? Why are there few images of people? Just what does it all mean? Such questions have kept generations of scholars and archaeologists busy trying to find a definitive if ever elusive explanation.

            Just imagine if in 6000 years all they can find of our current generation is a memes site. Why are there all these images of cats? Why is the same image repeated so many time with different symbols over the top? Why are the animations all in 16 colours rather than a 32bit colour palette?

            • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @07:28AM (#42285519) Journal

              I'm more enamored with the imagined scenario when they encounter goatse, inadvertently rickroll themselves, then, stumbling away in terror, falling into the pits of 4chan, crawling out of that, only to fall of the cliff into youtube comments.

      • Counting or not counting the Twelve Colonies of Kobol?
  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @04:58PM (#42279463) Journal
    ...that people back in those days actually believed that the moon was one BIG ball of cheese
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:02PM (#42279523) Homepage Journal

    People must have looked on and though, "What they heck is he/she doing there?!? Oh my!"

  • Now that would be some well aged sharp cheese.

  • I read this as "humans have been eating chinese"
    • by cvtan ( 752695 )
      Silly human. There is no Chinese cheese. (And if there is, I want to hear about it.)
      • There are many different minority groups in China. Groups such as the Mongols have made cheese for thousands of years. The majority Han population make and use cheese, but it seems to be more of an imported idea from other cultures.
      • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:46PM (#42280245) Homepage
        I worked at a cheese shop when I was in University and we sold cheese from all over the world. I always thought it odd that there was no cheese from China. There's Cheese from India, the middle east, europe, south america. Just about everywhere. I can't recall any cheese coming from the far east, and I've never seen cheese a chinese restaurant (except the big buffet ones that server everything from french fries to kraft dinner to General Tao's chicken to tripe) I don't recall any cheese from Africa either. I wonder why some cultures developed cheese while others didn't. Why, even if they hadn't invented it on their own, why they didn't start making it once the cultures mixed.
        • Two big shocks on entering American food/drink culture coming from the UK. A big one was how much a bar != a pub. But bigger was for a nation who consumes so much food, how can its cheese be this bad? 300 million people, surely there's room for a few hundred local decent cheeses? Are there any excellent and widely available varieties?

          • We don't seem to have any livestock here that wasn't already being used elsewhere, and given that the majority of the population comes from immigrants, are you really surprised we just have cheeses from other cultures? (pun intended)

            • Not surprised by the cheeses from other cultures, just how uniformly poor they were, e.g., was expecting a cheddar, but they were all so incredibly bland; pretty much how fussy young children think cheese should taste.

              Have seen how much the beer market's changed, with some delicious US local beers on quite wide distribution. Would have hoped something could have happened with another cultured product.

              • I've no problem getting nice flavorful / strong cheeses - usually you have to get them from the deli though. Either sliced, or they have them in wedges/wheels.

                The stuff you find in little pre-pack things is crap though.

          • Two big shocks on entering American food/drink culture coming from the UK. A big one was how much a bar != a pub. But bigger was for a nation who consumes so much food, how can its cheese be this bad? 300 million people, surely there's room for a few hundred local decent cheeses? Are there any excellent and widely available varieties?

            There are good local cheeses, but they are probably produced in such small quantities and so widely geographically distributed, and the market has been so dominated by mass produced crap that it's hard to find if you don't know where to look. And since I live in Canada I don't know where to look in the US either, I don't have much advice. (Though Wisconsin [] is supposed to be famous for cheese.)

            The situation is not so different in Canada, if you're in major cities and you don't look to hard all you will find

            • The last two look especially mouth-watering. Off to raid the fridge and pop open the Port...

              Is there a general market for these, or are such flavours still a niche? Trying to work out if the hump stopping wider distribution is formed by supply (existing interests) or demand (tastes too exotic)?

              • Being more Euopean than the rest of America, the market for "exotic" cheese in Quebec is pretty healthy and it seems to be growing.

                It should not be too hard to find Oka in the US and there's at least one US distributor for du Village []. In Wisconsin of course.

  • Cheese (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ossifer ( 703813 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:10PM (#42279661)

    Cheese is made from milk.

  • ...cheese has been eating humans since 1917!!!
  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:16PM (#42279751)

    Try to put a sauce named "hovmästarsås" on your cheese. So good it becomes hard to eat cheese without it. Those ignorant Swedes waste it entirely on salmon (hence its second name, "gravlaxsås") which is a profanation. Can be often bought in IKEAs, or made on your own.

  • Cheese is just spoiled milk just like wine is spoiled grapes and beer is spoiled grain.
    This has been going on as long as these things have existed.
    Hungry people will try to eat anything even if it has spoiled. Fortunately, sometimes when things spoil, they get better (but don't try this with meat).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fermentation is not the same thing as spoiling.

    • You've never heard of aged beef?
      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        I've heard of it but I don't think it's "spoiled"... i.e. it's not infected with bacteria or yeast.
        Good old Wikipedia gives an answer:
        "The process changes beef by two means. Firstly, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavour and taste. Secondly, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef."

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          ". it's not infected with bacteria or yeast."
          wha? that's not what spoiled means.

          Spoiled: To become unfit for use or consumption,

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      No, it isn't spoiled milk.. or spoiled grain.

    • (but don't try this with meat).

      Too late [].
      And the process is very safe - so safe in fact that at least one company [] in the Country of Germophobia has FDA approval for doing it.

  • It was the first time that researchers had discovered that the ancient civilization used bowls for specific purposes.

    Honestly, I'm at a loss for words.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Why? It's a specific type of bowl that has a single purpose. Unless you have evidence of an older one?

      • TFA makes it sound like they were surprised to find that individual bowls were ever used for a specific item. In other words, that the ancient people were capable of using multiple bowls to prevent their ingredients from mixing...
  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:33PM (#42280015)

    Making and eating cheese, beer, and bread define what it is to be fully human. Any dirty ape can go club a mammoth and bring it back to its den, but to domesticate two different kinds of creatures (a mammal and a bacterium, or a grass and a yeast) and use one to rot the other and come out with something even tastier than the original? That requires massive intelligence, communication, tool use, planning, and social structure.

    (PS: if any modern cultures exist that don't eat cheese, beer, or bread, I don't mean to imply that they're not fully human. Their current environment might not have the resources to do these things, but you can bet their ancestors knew how.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Holladon ( 1620389 )

      (PS: if any modern cultures exist that don't eat cheese, beer, or bread, I don't mean to imply that they're not fully human.

      Maybe not, but with no cheese, no bread, and no beer, WHAT IS THE DAMN POINT.

    • by Alomex ( 148003 )


      I agree with the other two, but when it comes to beer more civilized societies skipped the rotten grains part and went straight to "tea" (boiling water) when trying to obtain a cleaner source of drinking water.

  • by puppetman ( 131489 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @05:40PM (#42280133) Homepage

    The stomach of a young mammal naturally turns milk into curds and when. It solidifies the milk so that it digests more slowly, and the young mammal gets more out of it. Our ancestors turned breast milk into a primitive cheese, in their stomachs.

    When a baby spits up milk, think about what it looks like - it's curds. Our ability to make curds from milk disappears about the same time our so-called milk-teeth start falling out.

    As a result, to make cheese, you need the stomach lining of a young mammal to turn your milk to curds. Old mammals have lost the ability.

  • The earliest known case of lactose intolerance. Cause and effect.

  • So the next time someone complains when I cannon rush them in Stacraft 2, I can tell them not to be so mad, cheesing has been going on for 7500 years already...

  • Sorry but this would not be /. without a Monty Python Cheese reference. So do you actually have any Cheese, Cleese?

  • by fufufang ( 2603203 ) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:14PM (#42283381)

    You don't actually see any cheese in China, unless you go to posh restaurant which provides foreign food.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.