When were cows first used for milk?

Early records often mention man's use of milk and milk products, and cows were used for milk long before any records were kept.

A temple that was discovered near Babylon has a scene on one of the walls that shows a cow being milked. This temple is thought to be five thousand years old!

Instead of milking cows from the right side, as is done today, the man is milking the cows from behind. The milker sits on a milking stool. Other men are straining the milk into a container on the ground. A third group collects the strained milk in large stone jars. So it seems that the business of getting milk from cows was pretty well organized five thousand years ago.

Today the cow and the goat are the major animals supplying milk for human use. But in various parts of the world, people use milk from other animals that are native to their homelands. For example, in Asia, the camel, the horse, and the yak are sources of milk. Eskimoes and Laplanders use the caribou and the reindeer. Water buffalo are used in India and central Asia. And sheep are used in Europe and Asia to provide milk for human use.

Milk contains several hundred different chemical parts, but it is best known for its calcium, phosphorus, and protein. Since milk is easily digested, the calcium, phosphorus, and other materials can be quickly and effectively used by the body. Milk sugar (lactose) and the major milk protein, casein, are found only in milk.