|28 February 2014
Ancient Britons 'loved dairy food'
A large-scale investigation of British archaeological sites dating from about 4600 BCE to 1400 CE reveals the ancestors of modern Britain embraced a 'convenience food' lifestyle about 6000 years ago when they replaced hunting and fishing with dairy farming.
Researchers examined millions of fragments of bone and analysed more than 1000 cooking pots to ascertain how ancient Britons ate. Early hunters feasted on venison and wild boar and ate large quantities of seafood, but when experienced immigrants introduced domestic animals 6000 years ago, Britons quickly gave up wild foods and fishing was largely abandoned.
Seafood was shunned for the next 4000 years, reappearing in the British diet during the Iron Age and becoming a significant part of it only with the arrival of the Vikings.
"Whilst we like to think of ourselves as a nation of fish eaters, with fish and chips as our national dish, it seems that early British farmers preferred beef, mutton and milk," says Dr Jacqui Mulville, of Cardiff University, who was among the researchers.
The ability to milk animals was a revolution in food production for our early ancestors, as it was the first time they did not have to kill animals to obtain food.
Edited from The Australian (13 February 2014)
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