The art of cheesemaking has had a long, long time to ripen, as a group of researchers from Britain, United States, and Poland have discovered. About 7,500 years to be exact.

From Kuyavia, Poland, the group found milk residue on prehistoric pottery fragments that appear to be perforated like contemporary cheese strainers. Prehistoric murals a few millennia younger than the fragments depict cheesemaking, but the lab results suggest that the practice is indeed much older.

Previously, milk residue was found at sites in Turkey and Libya that date back up to 8,000 years; however, direct evidence was missing to draw any conclusion on how they related to cheesemaking.

The researchers believe “milk production and dairy processing allowed early farmers to produce food without slaughtering precious livestock, and making cheese turned milk into a less perishable food that was more digestible for a population who at the time would have been intolerant to the lactose contained in milk.”

[via News Daily]