Did cheese start human civilization?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Augenis, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Miker Still lurking...

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    It won't kill you by itself since it's only the sugar that's indigestible(milk has plenty of fat/protein), but it is not pleasant. Now, in combination with the other things that can kill you in the pre-modern world, yeah, I can see the selection pressure
     
  2. Lampiao Well-Known Member

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    You're right, I misspoke, I was thinking more of natural selection than milk literally killing people.
     
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  3. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Which goes to show just how inconsequential cheese is, considering that most of the adult population across the entire world are lactose intolerant and get by just fine.
     
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  4. Lampiao Well-Known Member

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    The fact that intolerants sometimes can digest cheese is not necessarily related with its history. Most traditional cheeses come from areas where most people can digest dairy. Just try to think in a traditional East Asian plate that has cheese in it.
     
  5. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Eh? I'm not sure how that contradicts what I said, I was making a point of how being able to digest cheese clearly wasn't critical for human civilization to develop. Namely because East Asia among many other parts of the world have done just fine without cheese. Hell, the best Mexican cuisine doesn't have cheese (Tex-Mex can go to the cheesy hell it belongs in).
     
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  6. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member

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    There are also beer, wine - and honey, which you only have to collect, but not process or so.
     
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  7. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

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  8. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    No but it may well end it. *dun dun duuun*
     
  9. Hvalrossen Well-Known Member

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    I have heard that civilization started as way to get a steady supply of alcohol.
     
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  10. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

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    The Ultimate civilization kick-off! :D
     
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  11. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

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    That actually is a very serious theory.

    Beer was popular because it was safe to drink in a world with no sanitation, so it is possible farmers grew grain just for more beer.
     
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  12. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    East Africans among others have been having cheese for a long time (though I think not as early as it seems that early Europeans/Middle Easterners). In the Americas there was no milk domesticate except maybe the Llamas; a quick google check suggests that Llama milk cheese is a thing (fairly minor), but I find no evidence of it existing before the Columbian Exchange.
     
  13. Tanc49 Domitian Truther

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    What about Chinese cheese? I know India has it (paneer) but never heard of any cheese East of that
     
  14. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    Neither did I.
    Tofu is basically the East Asian equivalent, derived from soy rather milk. I don't know how early it is, but I suppose more recent than cheese.
    I suppose that lactose intolerance would prevent dairy products from becoming widespread absent enabling factors.
     
  15. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    No. Cereals were the beginning of civilization, and cured meat and fish was available long before cheese.
    But cheese, and dairies in general, did play a major role in the secondary products revolution, whose reemphasising of herding went a long way towards de-urbanization for quite a while, though.
     
  16. ennobee Well-Known Member

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    I heard the same argument being made about bread and on one occasion even about beer. I tend to believe the bread part. I would even rate that more probable then the idea about cheese. It's easier to collect and store grains than finding a cow to milk.
     
  17. HB of CJ Well-Known Member

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    Cheese was important but it only worked under certain climatic conditions. Grazing livestock. Soil. Rainfall. Low population density. Plus you had to be able to digest it. Like already said, alcohol may have been just as important. Soap may have been more important. Possibly domesticated horses? Not sure. Great subject.
     
  18. Mr Atoz Member

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    I think we are all putting the cart before the horse. Or, should I say, the cheese before the goat.
    Cheese could not exist until humans began domesticating milk producing animals. These animals, goats and sheep, were domesticated for their meat and wool. The use of their milk would only have come about as an after thought.

    And, what do we mean by "civilization"? If it's being used in the old sense of a society in a settled location and having a hierarchical structure - derived for the Latin civitas - then it was the cultivation of grain that was the prime factor. If we mean the development of art, religion and a complex social structure; then those things existed long before the agricultural revolution and perhaps before the rise of modern humans.