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Scientists discovered ancient cauldrons were used to collect blood

Ancient ships accidentally found in the Mongolian steppes have given us new insight into how the world’s ancient inhabitants ate. Archaeologists scraped sedimentary remains from the center of two Bronze Age cauldrons dating back 2,750 years; This revealed that the vessels were once used to collect the blood of ruminant animals such as sheep and goats, as well as the milk of wild yaks.very happy).

You ask what they do with the blood? We can’t know for sure, but it was probably used for dietary purposes, such as making blood sausage, similar to the sausage-making technique still used in rural Mongolia. The discovery includes not only the collection and consumption of blood in the region, but also the oldest evidence to date of wild yaks in Central Mongolia.

“Our analysis highlights the extraordinary preservation properties of bronze materials, which serve as repositories for the preservation of proteins and other organic molecules,” says Shevan Wilkin, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

“These discoveries offer a glimpse into the gastronomic traditions and food preferences of Bronze Age nomads and shed light on the diverse culinary methods practiced by ancient civilizations.”

Two cauldrons with drawings. The larger one (a, b) has a diameter of 36 centimeters (14 inches), and the smaller one (c, d) has a diameter of 28.5 centimeters. (Wilkin et al., Science. Representative 2024)

Two cauldrons were accidentally discovered. If archaeological sites in the Mongolian steppe are not accompanied by a mound, it is almost impossible to know that it is there. In this case, two cattle breeders in Khovsgol province unexpectedly came across the site while working on the fence for their horse pen.

During the excavation, not only cauldrons but also other artifacts were unearthed; these were then transferred to the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, where researchers could access and study them.

Wilkin and his colleagues conducted an extensive and detailed study of two boilers. They used radiocarbon dating to determine how old they were and then took samples from inside both for protein analysis.

They hoped this would reveal something about the diet of people who once used boilers. Scientists have discovered other similar cauldrons that were once used, for example, for cooking meat. But what Wilkin and his colleagues found was a little different.

Proteomic analyzes revealed the presence of a glycoprotein expressed in the liver as well as blood proteins. These proteins were later classified as coming from ruminant animals: animals such as goats and Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia).

But that wasn’t all the researchers found. Secondary proteins in the cauldron have been traced to the milk of wild yaks. Although we don’t know exactly how these two liquids, blood and milk, were used, the fact that they were used tells us a lot about how Mongolian Bronze Age people lived.

“Our evidence suggests that two specialized cauldrons from northern Mongolia were used to collect the blood of ruminant animals during slaughter, and were likely an important part of food production. If blood was collected for sausage production, as we assume, this practice would date back to at least 2,700 years ago.” ” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“This is not surprising, as ruminant milking has been practiced in the region for over 5,000 years. Our discovery of Bronze Age yak milk is also intriguing because it indicates when yaks may have first been introduced into Mongolia’s presence.”

The researchers concluded that such bronze vessels may represent an untapped resource for understanding ancient civilizations, as the metal has antibacterial properties that can preserve organic matter for thousands of years.

Source: Port Altele



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