The Cheddar Man was a Neolithic human found in England. He lived around 9100 years ago. Researchers analysed his DNA, which was fairly typical of Western Europeans at the time, and found that he was lactose intolerant, had green eyes, dark curly hair, and he was Black.

This made a lot of racists very upset, and I still find that pretty funny.

Incidentally, the name is only vaguely related to cheese. His skeleton was found in Gough's Cave in the Cheddar Gorge in South England. Which is also where Cheddar cheese originally comes from.

Though the fact that he was lactose intolerant also feels pretty ironic.

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Seriously though, it's pretty wild, the Wikipedia page about him doesn't show this reconstruction of his face, and includes a lengthy paragraph about "ongoing debate as to how Cheddar Man's skin pigmentation should be reconstructed". Needless to say, it's unlikely anyone would think twice if the researchers had found that he had pale skin.

Apparently the very idea that people in Neolithic Europe were Black is just too much for some Very Rational™ people to handle!

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@InvaderXan I've been in those caves and spent a lot of time in the area. Cheddar Man has direct descendents in the area! a lot of little Englanders did not like that fact

@CornishRepublicanArmy Yeah, I remember going there when I was just a little kid. It's a pretty place!

Though it's also the kind of place I'd describe as extremely white, so I guess the absurd reaction isn't exactly unexpected.

@InvaderXan yeah, Somerset and Cornwall are EXTREMELY damn white. I took a friend of mine around a bunch of places in the south west I like, his grandparents are Jamacian aaaaand 😬 we had a LOT of 'incidents'

@CornishRepublicanArmy @InvaderXan the way little Englanders view history is so fucked.

Their worldview literally can't accept that anglos aren't native to the islands.

@CornishRepublicanArmy @InvaderXan Make Britain a loose confederation of decentralized communities again!


@InvaderXan so sad to think that Cheddar Man would never have gotten to enjoy a nice bit of Cheddar cheese, both due to his lactose intolerance and also by predating cheese by around a thousand years.


@alex @InvaderXan he might have been able to enjoy some aged cheddar! the harder and older a cheese gets the less lactose is present.


@glitterwitch @alex Interestingly, we have no idea when, or even where cheese was first made. It may have come from West Asia or North Africa. I remember reading the oldest known cheese making equipment was around 8000 years old, but it's usually a safe bet that if something was widespread enough for us to find traces of it, it was probably going on for much longer before that.

So who knows!


@InvaderXan @alex I always went with the theory that it came from some herding folks who were storing milk in a bag made from a stomach. i always assumed it was somewhere in Africa or the Near/ Middle East but I haven't boned up on my cheese history lately!


@glitterwitch @alex Yeah, from what I've read, that seems the most likely explanation.


@InvaderXan @glitterwitch @alex alright, but who was the first person to see the curdled mess inside and say "Fuck it, I'm going to try it anyway, I - hmm. This is pretty nice actually. Hey guys! GUYS! Try this, it's - no, it looks disgusting but actually - hey come back! Where are you going?"


@RedFuture @InvaderXan @glitterwitch @alex "hungrier than the first person who ate an artichoke", as some say

@InvaderXan it's kind of frustrating how many wikipedia articles go out of their way to coddle the feelings of bigots

@amandag Unfortunately, I think a lot of those articles are written by the bigots. Bigots with too much time on their hands. Possibly the biggest downside to Wikipedia's anyone-can-edit-freely model.

@InvaderXan Nothing against your point, but to clarify: Since this is an artist's reconstruction, afaik even a freely licensed image of it could not be included in the article as long as the piece of art itself hasn't been released under a free license or entered public domain.

@InvaderXan Racists gonna be racist. Also, it shouldn't matter which color or exact tone nuance was his skin, 'cause all of us descend from black African hominidae, if someone cares about that.

@tagomago Apparently, a great many people care. So the color of his skin is important.

@carl If they care about the Cheddar Man skin tone, they must care about their ancestors' too, because they didn't come from outer space. Well, actually some of them believe that too...

Why I learn by visiting Stonehenge archaeological site, and some other sources, is, that it was made in several steps, both from pre-Celtic civilisations. The first one, 3500~2800BC, the second one is from 2800~2100BC and the third 2000~1100BC

People, from all Europe and Mediteranean bounds already come at this site at this time. It's main role was probably winter solstice for death, not summer one for live (the time everyone come now) :).

@InvaderXan the wildest thing is that someone related to him still lives in the town! Adrian targett was a history teacher there. 300 generations in a geographical area of maybe 10 miles. it's so wild. Mesolithic ppl with lactose intolerance makes so much sense when you think about the introduction of domestic cattle and pastoralism as a neolthic practice only introduced 3000 years later

@knownrobes @InvaderXan Actually, not needing to digest lactose after weaning (~4 y.o. for humans) is normal. Lactase not being switched off after that time was a lucky mutation for those, who had domestic cattle.


> Though the fact that he was lactose intolerant also feels pretty ironic.

Why ironic? Many types of cheeses (including cheddar) are naturally low in lactose.

@ArtistMarciaX @InvaderXan Just adding: "Us" being humankind. Most of humankind does not need the ability to digest lactose after weaning.

@carl @InvaderXan yes. but i'm meaning that in the contemporary, and maybe im wrong, but specifically ppl of afro descent are often lactose intolerant.

i dont know nearly as many white folks who are vs blk folks.

@ArtistMarciaX @InvaderXan The whole spectrum of lactose digestion ability is present in Black people, them being the ancestors of all humans. Massai or other cattle pastoralist Black people can digest lactose as adults. AFAIK Asian people do not retain the ability to digest lactose. Only some white people do, and not even all of them.

@carl @ArtistMarciaX @InvaderXan I'm not sure, but I remember reading that lactose tolerance evolved several times in Africa, Asia and Europe, so the only continent without local milk-drinking peoples would be the Americas and the Pacific Islands, due to their comparatively super fast population process and the lack of suitable cattle. But as you say, it's an spectrum and this is a simplification.

@matias93 @ArtistMarciaX @InvaderXan Without knowing myself, it seems pretty likely that such a useful mutation for cattle-herders would evolve several times.
Then again, the human norm is not to have it, it just happens that white people (which are a minority) have it overproportionally.

@carl @ArtistMarciaX @InvaderXan the result of a lot of herders moving west and getting into a geographical dead end until 500 years ago

@ArtistMarciaX @InvaderXan To spin this further, this time language:
"intolerant" implies an illness, outside the norm. But the actual norm for humans is different, so white europeans decided that their mutation of lactase regulation was "normal".
It is always fun to call white people melanine-deficient which subtly changes the power of definition of "normal" in the medical sense.

@InvaderXan For a sec I was surprised about the lactose intolerance, but then again it makes sense.

@InvaderXan My husband's headcanon is that these were the First Men in A Song of Ice and Fire.

@InvaderXan i love seeing photos of our ancestors, and seeing how we've always been people, it makes me emotional

also: this dude is super handsome?? his smile is so charming

@wenom Honestly, I kinda thought the same thing! Also, that combination of dark skin and green eyes? Gosh 💚

@InvaderXan @wenom also, a fantastic work by the sculptor(s), a field that has advanced a lot, from merely reproducing the sites of flesh to generate a lifelike image based on evidence. It's art as well as science :)

@InvaderXan Added a picture from wikicommons to the article

@InvaderXan the article is certainly a hot potato. lots of edits and revert stuff :)

I just looked it up and it seems, that cheddar cheese is suitable for lactose intolerance, but not for lactose allergy
But that the original model of modern man was as black as original Ford cars, is not news
We (Europeans) acquired whiteness from Neanderthals. Has some advantages in cold climate, because small skin exposure to sun allows sufficient synthesis of Vitamin D
We should inbreed more of the original, because we're going into warm climate, which needs more sun protection

@InvaderXan somehow missed this news at the time, this is awesome. making racists mad is just icing on the cake too

@InvaderXan why is he called the cheddar man? He can’t eat cheese!

@InvaderXan He looks like he's just thought of a really fucking good dirty joke

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