Lait’Ages (milk in the ages)

A two-years program (2020-2021) funded by the MSHB (Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Bretagne)

The program on the website of the MSHB (in French) : https://www.mshb.fr/projets_mshb/lait-ages/6209/

Greek and Latin literary sources allow us to approach about technical and cultural aspects of dairy products in antiquity, highlighting differences between the civilized world (Greeks and Romans) and the barbarian one. This dichotomy is perfectly illustrated by the encounter between Ulysses, the wine- drinker and the cyclops Polyphemus, the milk-drinker. For prehistory and protohistory, recent research programs have attested the importance of milk and its derivatives from the Early Neolithic until the ages of metals. However due to the perishability of organic matter the archeology of dairy products remains a field of research to be developed, particularly in Brittany. The Lait’Ages program proposes over two years and through the collaboration between specialists from different disciplines (regional archaeology, history and archeology of dairy products, dairy technologies, archaeometry) to achieve mainly four objectives: (1) methodological problems on archaeology of dairy products; (2) a selection of protohistorical pottery in order to approach a traceological study to be coupled with chemical / proteomic analysis; (3) production of cheese, butter … according to ancient techniques in reconstitutions of protohistoric ceramics in order to find chemical markers; (4) to arrange an itinerant exhibition on the archaeology of dairy products in Brittany.

The Aristonothos crater with the representation of the clash between the wine drinker Greek Ulysse and the milk drinker barbarian Polyphemus, . Archaic Greek vase discovered in Etruria (Museum of the Capitole in Rome)

Foodstuffs, Dairy products, Fermented beverages, Medicinal and Cosmetic products, Perfumes, Aromatic materials in the Mediterranean and West-European areas

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