Small spouted vessels, probably used for feeding animal milk to infants and young children, have been found in Bronze Age and Iron Age infant tombs in Bavaria. Archaeological research published in the British journal Nature reports on the latest analysis of these artifacts, providing new insights into the behavior of prehistoric humans also used milk bottles.
The pottery dates back to the Neolithic Age more than 5,000 years ago and features a spout through which liquid can be poured. Although some scientists have suggested that they may have been used to feed babies, it has been difficult to determine what was contained inside, in part because the mouths of these pottery vessels were small.
To address this challenge, archaeologists Julie Denny, Richard Evershed and their colleagues at the University of Bristol in the UK studied three open-mouthed vessels found in Bavaria, two from One burial complex from the Early Iron Age, dated to 800 to 450 BC, and another from the Late Bronze Age, dated to 1200 to 800 BC. All three containers were found around infants and young children aged 0 to 6 years old.
The research team analyzed lipid residues in detail and identified fatty acids from animal products, including fresh milk. Two of the containers appeared to have contained ruminant milk, while one contained mixed non-ruminant milk (possibly pig or human milk).
The researchers believe that these findings prove that these containers should be used to feed infants animal milk to supplement nutrition during the weaning period.