The first unequivocal evidence that humans in prehistoric Saharan Africa used cattle for their milk nearly 7,000 years ago is described in research by an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, UK, published today in Nature.
By analysing fatty acids extracted from unglazed pottery excavated from an archaeological site in Libya, the researchers showed that dairy fats were processed in the vessels. This first identification of dairying practices in the African continent, by prehistoric Saharan herders, can be reliably dated to the fifth millennium BC.
Andie posted this on her Facebook page. I think this is quite profoundly important because it demonstrates pretty conclusively at least part of what people had suspected for a long time. IIRC, Wendorf and colleagues had postulated initial cattle domestication in the Sahara and that a large part of the reason they did so was for milk products rather than just meat — which makes sense: if you just need meat, just kill the wild ones every now and then without having to maintain them. I believe their primary evidence was the finding of cattle remains associated with human habitations outside of their normal range rather than from changes in bodily structure to differentiate from the wild stock. Also the origin and spread of the lactase gene will also be important fallout. Excellent stuff.