The The results were published in the journal Nature. It resulted in a clear pattern: before the Bronze Age, there was no trace of milk protein in the ten-person limes of the steppe region of the Lower Volga. Obviously, milk was not on the menu at all or was not a regular at the time of these people. But that changed, with the people who lived at the site analyzed later – in the Early Bronze Age and the rise of the Yamnaya. Residues of milk protein were present in 15 of 16 individual tartar samples. The people here were consuming goat’s, cow’s, and sheep’s milk – and in one case, horse milk. Late Bronze Age samples show that locals then stuck to dairy products.
The researchers concluded that cattle breeding and milk played a very important role in the disturbances at the beginning of the Bronze Age. However, change in diet goes hand in hand with many other cultural and technological changes. At about the same time, the inhabitants of the prosperous Yamanja culture left their traditional settlements in the river valleys, began to build typical Kurgan burial mounds, moved in carts and took horses with them more often than before. Researchers speculate that horses no longer serve only as milk stands, but also as milk producers – both of which can increase people’s mobility even in difficult terrain or in winter and boost their success across Europe.
It is still not clear what form of milk can be consumed by the yemenaga and their relatives. Previous genetic studies showed that the Yamanaga in the Early Bronze Age did not have lactase stability yet, which means that they did not have the genetic makeup needed to digest lactose easily even in adults. It is conceivable that the milk proteins in lime come from fermented dairy products, such as cheese or yoghurt.
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