Agilent and the World’s Oldest Cheese

How long have humans been making cheese?  Apparently, 4,000 years earlier than scientists previously thought.  Researchers recently examined ancient pottery found in Croatia.  They determined that fatty residue in the pottery is from making fermented dairy products.

This pottery is 7,200 years old.  It is the earliest documented lipid residue evidence for fermented dairy in the Mediterranean region, and among the earliest documented anywhere to date. (CNN)

How were researchers able to make their determination?  They used HP/Agilent equipment, including a gas chromatograph, mass selective detector, autosampler and column.  Chemical analysis confirmed that the fatty residue was from cheese as opposed to milk.

This discovery increases our understanding of mankind’s earliest communities.  Scientists know from genetic data that Early Europeans were lactose intolerant.  Cheesemaking helped young children consume milk in a way that increased nutrients while reducing pathogens and lactose content.

“We suggest that milk and cheese production among Europe’s early farmers reduced infant mortality,” the researchers write.  This in turn “helped stimulate demographic shifts that propelled farming communities to expand to northern latitudes.”

The study used an Agilent DB-5 column, which complements Agilent’s extensive portfolio of GC columns for Fat and Oil analysis.

  • Agilent’s DB-FATWAX Ultra Inert columns enable researchers to perform analyzes of fatty acids without extensive sample preparation.
  • Agilent’s new DB-FastFAME columns offer even faster analysis of FAMEs (fatty acid methyl esters) with superior resolution for challenging isomers.

For more information go to: