Archaeologists discovered that ceramic vessels were used thousands of years ago in the Bronze Age as bottles for the babies to be fed with. The discovery was published in the journal Nature and it offered an intriguing look at how and what infants were fed in prehistoric times, more than three millennia ago.
Chemical traces of milk belonging to animals such as cows, sheep and goats in three such items found buried in child graves in Germany, represented for the scientists the proof of the fact that the ceramic vessels had been using in the way mentioned earlier and that they weren’t just used for some sort of decoration.
While the three objects examined for the study were just plain looking, others were carved with shapes of animal heads with long ears or horns and human-looking feet.
“I find them incredibly cute. And prehistoric people may have thought so, too – they would certainly have a dual function of entertaining the children just like modern stuffed animals,” said archaeologist Katharina Rebay-Salisbury of the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, a study co-author.
“They testify to the creativity and playfulness we often forget to attribute to our ancestors,” Rebay-Salisbury added.
“I think this has provided us the first direct evidence of what foods babies were eating or being weaned on to in prehistory,” said biomolecular archaeologist Julie Dunne of the University of Bristol in Britain, lead author of the study. “I think this shows us the love and care these prehistoric people had for their babies.”
Mothers from the Bronze Age may have not always had time or desire to breastfeed their babies. Therefore, animal milk is suitable for the development of babies as it is the milk from mothers. “Duties of mothering — amongst which feeding is an important one — can also be undertaken by other members of the community when children are fed with feeding vessels,” Rebay-Salisbury said.