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Ancient vessels found in present day Croatia. Image: Sibenik City Museum

A discovery in Croatia has more than doubled the length of known cheesemaking history, pushing it back nearly 4,000 years in time.

Traces of fat found in pottery unearthed on the Dalmatian Coast indicate that people were fermenting dairy to make cheese and yogurt around 7,200 years ago, according to a U.S.–European research team.

Why it matters: When they began to make dairy products, humans were able to settle and farm in northern Europe, since the advance would have reduced infant mortality and allowed the population to grow, according to a news release from Penn State.

Residues previously found in Mediterranean pottery indicate that non-fermented milk was being produced and stored around 500 years before cheese and yogurt.

  • When cheese came onto the scene, it brought with it new, specialized kitchenware, Penn State anthropology professor Sarah McClure told the university's news service.
  • The researchers found the cheese traces in animal- or human-shaped vessels called rhyta. They also uncovered sieves that appeared to be used for processing cheese and other fermented dairy.

The discovery was reported last week in the PLOS One academic journal.

Go deeper

30 mins ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.