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13 October 21

RESPECT THE EMBARGO (13.10.21 - 17 h): Beer and blue cheese already on the menu 2,700 years ago

A team of researchers led by Eurac Research and the Natural History Museum Vienna gains unique insights into the history of cheese production and complex dietary habits of prehistoric Europeans by studying human paleofeces from the Hallstatt salt mine.

We perceive highly processed fermented foods such as beer or cheese primarily as a hallmark of modern times. However historical texts do confirm that milk was fermented in ancient Egypt and, the world's oldest evidence for the actual consumption of blue cheese has now been revealed by a team of researchers. The evidence in question comes from Hallstatt salt mine in Austria in the form of exceptionally well-preserved fecal remains from the Bronze Age to the Baroque period which demonstrate the presence of two fungal species used in the production of blue cheese and beer. The combination of archaeological and molecular analysis has proven particularly fruitful, providing surprising insights both into prehistoric dietary habits and food production. The study results will be published today, October 13, in the renowned journal Current Biology.

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04 October 21

Mummy research: Ancient dental calculus - new insights into the evolution of oral microbiota

A research team from Eurac Research and the University of Trento has examined ancient calculus samples from skeletal remains from South Tyrol and Trentino and discovered previously unknown species of microorganisms

Plaque – horrible stuff, right? Well yes, but not entirely: old tooth plaque also known as dental calculus samples provide a valuable source of information about our oral microbiota and its development. A team of researchers from Eurac Research and the University of Trento, examined the calculus of twenty human skeletal remains from South Tyrol and Trentino dating from the Neolithic period to the Early Middle Ages. The team discovered two previously unknown species of a common microorganism in our bodies called Methanobrevibacter. Thanks to the application of a bioinformatics method not yet established in mummy research, the research group was also able to reveal that on a temporal axis of 50,000 years, the diversity of this organism in our oral flora has declined sharply in recent centuries. The results of the study have now been published in the renowned journal "Microbiome".

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