By Matthias Schulz, Der Spiegel
New research has revealed that agriculture came to Europe amid a wave of immigration from the Middle East during the Neolithic period. The newcomers won out over the locals because of their sophisticated culture, mastery of agriculture -- and their miracle food, milk.
Wedged in between dump trucks and excavators, archeologist Birgit Srock is drawing the outline of a 7,200-year-old posthole. A concrete mixing plant is visible on the horizon. She is here because, during the construction of a high-speed rail line between the German cities of Nuremberg and Berlin, workers happened upon a large Neolithic settlement in the Upper Franconia region of northern Bavaria.
The remains of more than 40 houses were unearthed, as well as skeletons, a spinning wheel, bulbous clay vessels, cows' teeth and broken sieves for cheese production -- a typical settlement of the so-called Linear Pottery culture (named after the patterns on their pottery).
[ ... ]
The new settlers also had something of a miracle food at their disposal. They produced fresh milk, which, as a result of a genetic mutation, they were soon able to drink in large quantities. The result was that the population of farmers grew and grew.
These striking insights come from biologists and chemists. In a barrage of articles in professional journals like Nature and BMC Evolutionary Biology, they have turned many of the prevailing views upside down over the course of the last three years.
The most important group is working on the "Leche" project (the name is inspired by the Spanish word for milk), an association of 13 research institutes in seven European Union countries. The goal of the project is to genetically probe the beginnings of butter, milk and cheese.
An unusual circumstance has made this research possible in the first place. Homo sapiens was originally unable to digest raw milk. Generally, the human body only produces an enzyme that can break down lactose in the small intestine during the first few years of life. Indeed, most adults in Asia and Africa react to cow's milk with nausea, flatulence and diarrhea.
But the situation is different in Europe, where many people carry a minute modification of chromosome 2 that enables them to digest lactose throughout their life without experiencing intestinal problems. The percentage of people with this modification is the highest among Britons and Scandinavians.
It has long been known that these differences are based on Europeans' primeval origins. But where did the first milk drinker live? Which early man was the first to feast on cow's milk without suffering the consequences?
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Thursday, October 21, 2010
By Matthias Schulz, Der Spiegel
The Danish military has decided to drop a case against a soldier who wrote a book the military tried to stop.
The Judge Advocate has decided not to prosecute Thomas Rathsack, a Danish commando who wrote a controversial book that the military attempted to prevent being published.
Rathsack tells politiken.dk that he was contacted this morning by the Judge Advocate's office to tell him that he is not to be prosecuted.
“But I cannot say any more, among other reasons because I don't know what else is involved in the auditor's decision – for example whether there could be other consequences for me,” Rathsack says.
The auditor charged Rathsack last year under criminal and military law for allegedly having communicated information encompassed under laws preventing the dissemination of military secrets.
People's Press, who published Rathsack's book 'Jæger i krig med eliten' [Ranger at war with the elite] says the decision not to prosecute Rathsack is gratifying.
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Small spot for the Special Forces - Thomas Rathsack Shot on Canon 7D.
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