Humans Drinking Milk: A Historical Overview

Humans engaging in the act of drinking milk as part of their daily lives has become somewhat of a norm over time. But when did humans first begin drinking milk throughout the course of history? With the help of archaeological evidence, genetics, and historical evidence, we are finally beginning to understand the history of humans drinking milk.

Ancient Cultures

The earliest evidence of humans drinking milk dates all the way back to the Neolithic Era (approximately 11,000 to 7,000 BC). Because of the archaeological evidence found in pottery and bones of humans, historians suggest that humans have been drinking milk for thousands of years. In other ancient cultures, historians have found evidence of humans drinking mare’s milk from horse-like creatures, as well as cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goats’ milk.

Gene Mapping

In addition to archaeological evidence, genetic mapping has also played a large role in figuring out the history of humans drinking milk. Studies of the evolution of the gene for lactase—the enzyme that breaks down lactose—and the gene variants that allow adults to digest dairy are valuable sources of clues in understanding when and where humans started to drink milk.

Historical Records

If we look at the oldest historical records, we can see that many ancient civilizations have been drinking milk for centuries. In Ancient Egypt, records have shown that daily consumption of milk was very popular in the region. In the Epics of King Gilgamesh—stories written on clay tablets in Mesopotamia around 3000 BC—it mentions that the ancient Sumerians would place milk in huge bowls for burnt offerings, suggesting that milk was a valuable commodity.

Different Ways Humans Have Drunk Milk

Along with understanding when humans started drinking milk, it is important to understand how. One of the oldest methods of drinking milk is still practiced to this day: straight from the cow or goat. In the Middle Ages, humans started to consume milk through something called “monk’s milk”, which consisted of a mixture of milk, honey, and butter.

Another common method of drinking milk was through boiling it, making it into something called kumis. This drink was typically made with mares’ milk and was believed to have medicinal properties. In more recent times, humans have consumed milk through a number of ways including, but not limited to, in yogurt or cheese form.

Nutritional Benefits of Drinking Milk

In modern times, humans have become increasingly aware of the nutritional benefits of drinking milk. Cow’s milk is packed with essential nutrients including calcium, which is great for promoting strong bones and teeth, vitamin D for helping to absorb the calcium, protein for muscle development, and many more. Cow’s milk is also naturally low in carbs, making it a great choice for those who are looking to maintain a healthy diet.

The Modern Debate

With a majority of modern citizens in the developed world turning to milk as a popular source of nutrition, many debates have arisen about the effects it has on health and the environment. In the last few years, the debate has become increasingly polarized between pro-milk and anti-milk advocates.

Pro milk advocates argue that milk provides essential minerals and nutrients not found anywhere else, while anti milk proponents claim that milk can be detrimental to health due to its high fat, cholesterol, and lactose content.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to drink milk can be a highly personal thing, depending on individual circumstances.

Humans drinking milk dates all the way back to the Neolithic Era and has persisted through many cultures to this day. Thanks to archaeological evidence, genetic mapping, and historical records, we can trace the timeline of when humans began drinking milk and how it has changed through the ages. While there is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of drinking milk, the decision to consume milk is ultimately an individual one, depending on the person’s specific needs and lifestyle.