Europeans were enjoying blue cheese and beer 2,700 years ago, ancient poop shows

This article is over 2 months old Analysis of human waste confirms Europeans had long ago started drinking fermented beverages instead of stone-age fire Europeans were enjoying blue cheese and beer 2,700 years ago,…

Europeans were enjoying blue cheese and beer 2,700 years ago, ancient poop shows

This article is over 2 months old

Analysis of human waste confirms Europeans had long ago started drinking fermented beverages instead of stone-age fire

Europeans were enjoying blue cheese and beer 2,700 years ago, ancient poop shows

There’s no evidence of fresh-brewed coffee or artisanal soft cheeses in Europe’s most storied cities, but the coals were long gone and the beverage of choice was something people likely drank in 2016.

Researchers have analysed ancient human sewage from around Europe and found traces of fermented beer, fermented fruit and blue cheese in it.

The findings, which have been published in the journal Science Advances, offer a timeline of how people in places like Amsterdam and Strasbourg, from the Neolithic to the second millennium BC, had started enjoying fermented beverages instead of stone-age fire.

“Brewed beers, over-mixed fruit juice, fermented liqueurs and blue cheese are all ingredients that are very often found in human fecal matter today,” said University of Kansas microbiologist Steven Tardif, a co-author of the paper.

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“Many of these microorganisms are highly adaptable, thriving in a range of environments that include our bodies and many previously unappreciated sources of human waste.”

The researchers also found that the industrialisation of the city had eaten up other, more mundane food sources – pulses, cereals and nuts – in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

No worries, though. Coffee lovers in Amsterdam and Strasbourg would have still been able to find some imported cream coffee as well as an array of flavored espresso drinks – lattes, iced macchiatos and cappuccinos – from Asia.

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The oldest samples the team analysed were from Prague in Czech Republic, but they also found evidence of beer in the Meadows, Tyburn and Huntingdon in England, the Berlin section of Dresden, and Royal Court Street in Amsterdam.

Milk frothing from fermenting bones is not an uncommon sight in caves and tombs – especially those from the Neolithic period – but this is the first time beer has been shown to have been around for over 2000 years.

“I can’t believe that people at the time weren’t more excited about consuming fermented fruits, especially liqueurs,” said Tardif.

“I also can’t believe that many people didn’t at least think about how to do it in a slightly healthier way – not like using ash to make bread. I think that’s just crazy.”

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