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Friday, April 22, 2016
Iron age man was as fond of Swiss cheese as we are
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Swiss cheesemaking dates back to prehistoric times, paving the way for such delicacies as Gruyere and Emmental.
An international team led by the University of York and Newcastle University looked at the composition of residues left on fragments of ceramic pots found at six sites in the Swiss Alps. The shards of pottery were known to date from Neolithic times to the Iron Age. The researchers found that the residue on those from the 1st millennium BC -- the Iron Age -- had the same chemical signatures associated with heating milk from animals such as cows, sheep and goats, as part of the cheesemaking process.
The ceramic fragments examined as part of this study were found in the ruins of stone buildings similar to those used by modern alpine dairy managers for cheese production during the summer months.