Europeans in the Iron Age liked blue cheese and beer, and ancient poop performances

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(CNN)— Europeans in the Iron Age liked foods that are still part of our diet today—such as blue cheese and beer—and new research into ancient feces shows.

Normally, human feces will not last for thousands of years, Except for some specific places, such as dry caves, desert areas, flooded environments and frozen habitats.

But when studying the ancient dung-ancient dung-found in the prehistoric salt mine in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hallstatt-Dachstein in western Austria, the team found some “surprising” evidence: Two fungal species used to produce blue are present in historical samples of cheese and beer. The high salt concentration in the mine and the constant temperature of around 8 degrees Celsius per year preserved the samples well. The researchers said that their results showed the first molecular evidence of European blue cheese and beer consumption in the Iron Age.

“We can prove that fermented food has played an important role in human history for a long time,” study author Kerstin Kowarik, an archaeologist at the Vienna Museum of Natural History, told CNN via email.

“Cooking practices are very complex and rely on complex food processing techniques, such as fermentation, which are likely not only to preserve food, but also to achieve specific tastes,” she added.

“Through our research, we have also increased the long history of cheese and dairy products by proving that blue cheese was produced in Europe during the Iron Age nearly 2,700 years ago,” she said.

Researchers used in-depth analysis to explore the microorganisms, DNA, and proteins present in these stool samples and reconstruct the diets of people who once lived in the area.

Bran is one of the most common plant fragments found in the samples, as well as plant matter from different grains. Researchers say that this high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich diet supplements the protein in broad beans and fruits, nuts or animal foods.

When the researchers extended their microbiological investigations to fungi, they got the biggest surprise: large amounts of Penicillium roquefort and Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA were found in one of their Iron Age samples-found in cheese, beer, and bread, respectively. Fungus.

“The Iron Age salt miners in the Salt Mountains of Hallstatt seem to be interested in applying food fermentation technology with microorganisms that were still used in the food industry 2700 years ago,” Kovarik added.

The author, Frank Maixner, a microbiologist and coordinator of the Eurac Mummy Institute in Bolzano, Italy, told CNN that the fungal genome found in the sample “seems to have gone through a selection process to make it suitable for food fermentation.”

“So,” he added, “we assume that this fungus is part of the early fermentation culture.”

Experts say that the diet of ancient miners was dominated by plants, and their gut microbiome structure was similar to that of modern non-Western people. Their diet was mainly fresh fruits, vegetables and unprocessed food.

In the results of the study published in Cell Press on Wednesday, the team stated that their research shows that the western gut microbiota has changed recently with changes in eating habits and lifestyles.

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