Archaeologists Uncovered Bronze Age Baby Bottles, Revealing How Ancient Infants Were Fed

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Archaeologists Uncovered Bronze Age Baby Bottles, Revealing How Ancient Infants Were Fed

 

Human lifestyles underwent a much-needed shift about 7,000 years ago in Neolithic Europe. The hunter-gatherer style vanished as people domesticated animals and grew crops. About 6,000 years ago, humans started consuming dairy products, but very little is known about the diet of ancient infants. A new study has finally revealed it.

Previous studies have suggested that prehistoric infants were likely given some sort of baby food in addition to breast milk after six months. The new study revealed that pint-sized pottery from sites dating back to the Neolithic Period such as small cups and bowls with drinking spouts were used as feeding cups for babies. According to Smithsonian Mag, the official journal published by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the researchers believe that the cups dispensed animal milk. 

 

Photo Credit: National public Radio (NPR)

 

Julie Dunne, co-author of the study from the University of Bristol, said, “It was looking at the context of graves that really confirmed that they were infant feeding vessels.” The researchers also found out that the milk molecules they identified came from the ruminant family, which includes sheep, goats, and cows. This is the first time that they have been able to identify the types of foods fed to prehistoric infants. 

 

Photo Credit: National public Radio (NPR)

 

According to NPR, an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization, the findings of the study will help explain a major prehistoric baby boom in that era. Researchers hadn’t "recognized that the introduction of animal milk to infants' diets could have changed a woman's fertility” up until now. 

 

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Mag

 

Sian Halcrow, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Otago, said, "There's clinical evidence that when women are breastfeeding, they have a period of infertility. So if women aren't constantly suckling their young" — for example, because they're using animal milk to wean their children earlier — "they could actually have more babies during their lifetime, and it could result in an increase in population size."

 

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