A paper published in today's issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B announces the discovery of traces of milk on ancient pots unearthed in present day Finland.
The pots in question, studied by researchers with the Universities of Bristol and Helsinki, are estimated to date back to 2500 BC, and the milk fats found on them have helped shed new light on our ancestors' diet.
Thanks to these pots, it is now known that, despite living 60 degrees north of the equator and having to face rather harsh environmental conditions, folks inhabiting modern Finland millennia ago were no strangers to dairying.
“Four and a half thousand years ago, Stone Age people must have been foddering and sheltering domesticated animals over harsh winters, in conditions that even nowadays we would find challenging,” says Dr. Lucy Cramp.
By the looks of it, dairying in modern Finland really took off around the time when settlers who had long put their careers as hunters or fishermen behind them arrived in this corner of the world.
Specialists suspect that the fact that dairying was a common practice in present day Finland thousands of years ago might explain why the Finns are now the world's biggest milk drinkers.
“Our results show a clear link between an incoming pre-historic population, milk drinking and the ability to digest milk in adulthood still visible in the genetic distribution of modern Finland, which remains one of the highest consumers of dairy products in the world,” explains Dr. Volker Heyd.