The verdict? Using lipid analyses and other data...baby bottles.
|Science baby! Fig 2. From the paper (H. Seidl da Fonseca)|
Typically for the first six months of a baby's life they'll be titted and then around the age where they are able to sit up and grasp things they can be weaned to a bottle. Recently, I saw one of these in a French Bell Beaker mound and then several (similar?) from Late Neolithic Perdigoes in Portugal.
Dunne's pipes all have lipid residue, so when they have ash, what does that mean? Could these also be used as fire starters or smoking pipes? I suppose reside analysis can answer for each.
Some groups used a cow's horn for bottling
The study of childhood diet, including breastfeeding and weaning, has important implications for our understanding of infant mortality and fertility in past societies1. Stable isotope analyses of nitrogen from bone collagen and dentine samples of infants have provided information on the timing of weaning2; however, little is known about which foods were consumed by infants in prehistory. The earliest known clay vessels that were possibly used for feeding infants appear in Neolithic Europe, and become more common throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages. However, these vessels—which include a spout through which liquid could be poured—have also been suggested to be feeding vessels for the sick or infirm3,4. Here we report evidence for the foods that were contained in such vessels, based on analyses of the lipid ‘fingerprints’ and the compound-specific δ13C and Δ13C values of the major fatty acids of residues from three small, spouted vessels that were found in Bronze and Iron Age graves of infants in Bavaria. The results suggest that the vessels were used to feed infants with milk products derived from ruminants. This evidence of the foodstuffs that were used to either feed or wean prehistoric infants confirms the importance of milk from domesticated animals for these early communities, and provides information on the infant-feeding behaviours that were practised by prehistoric human groups.