Direct evidence of milk consumption from ancient human dental calculus
Humans have exploited animal milk as a food resource for at least 8500 years, but the origins, spread, and scale of prehistoric and historic dairying remain poorly understood. Indirect lines of evidence, such as lipid isotopic ratios of pottery residues, faunal mortality profiles, and LP allele frequencies, imply a complex history of dairying at the level of populations. However, in order to understand how, where, and when humans consumed milk products, it is necessary to link evidence of consumption directly to individuals and their dairy livestock. Here we report the first direct evidence of milk consumption, the whey protein β-lactoglobulin (BLG), preserved in human dental calculus from the Bronze Age (ca. 5000 BP) to the present day. Using protein tandem mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that BLG is a species-specific biomarker of dairy consumption, and we identify individuals consuming cattle, sheep, and goat milk products in the archaeological record.
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Direct evidence of milk consumption from ancient human dental calculus. Christina Warinner, Jessica Hendy, Camilla Speller, Matthew Collins. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397332)
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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;