Scientists Discover Grisly 3,000-Year-Old Protein Hack That Built History’s Fiercest Warriors

But are you man enough to try it?

Scientists Discover Grisly 3,000-Year-Old Protein Hack That Built History’s Fiercest Warriors

Image: DMARGE/World History

Researchers have discovered that Bronze Age Mongolian nomads used these gnarly tricks to fuel their strength and endurance.

Protein is a pillar of good nutrition and, it seems, always has been. Despite recent new data that totally changed what everyone thought about the right way to consume your protein and the never-ending scaremongering about the dangers of getting too much protein, everyone’s favourite macro has been top of the nutritional agenda for millennia.

Now, a landmark (if somewhat grisly) study has revealed that Bronze Age nomads from the Mongolian steppe had a unique protein hack that may have fueled their legendary battle prowess. Researchers have discovered that around 2,700 years ago, these ancient warriors drank animal blood in vast quantities, a practice that could have significantly added to their immense strength and endurance.

Blood in the Nomadic Diet

Archaeologists have long puzzled over the purpose of metal cauldrons unearthed across the Eurasian steppe. Recent protein analyses conducted on two such cauldrons — discovered in 2019 by herders in northern Mongolia — have finally yielded a clear answer. The research, led by Dr. Shevan Wilkin from the University of Basel and published in Scientific Reports, identifies remnants of blood from ruminants like sheep and goats flecked around these cauldrons.

Dr. Bryan Miller from the University of Michigan, co-author of the study, notes:

“Various historical accounts of the steppe dwellers claim that they regularly drank blood.”

These findings support the idea that blood was a critical component of their diet, likely collected in cauldrons during slaughter to make delicious blood sausage, reflecting not just a culinary tradition but also a practical preservation technique that would have provided a reliable protein source, crucial for the nomadic lifestyle that demanded intense physical resilience.

The ongoing parallels with contemporary customs in Mongolia are striking; blood sausage remains a staple in the region.

Blood sausage hanging in a butchers
It’s not the best-looking food in the world, but it will help you bulk up, that’s for sure. Image: BarcelonaPhotoblog

Domestication and Yak Milk

In addition to blood, the analysis revealed traces of milk from domestic cattle and yaks, suggesting that these animals were domesticated and milked in Mongolia much earlier than previously believed. The presence of milk proteins indicate that the same cauldrons were also used for fermenting milk, possibly to create yogurt or other preserved forms of dairy.

A yak.
Image: WikiCommons

Not only is this another ripping protein source — fermented milk products would have been a vital nutritional resource, enhancing the diet of the warriors and further contributing to their formidable reputation — the discovery of milk proteins in these ancient artifacts highlights the surprisingly sophisticated culinary practices of the Bronze Age nomads.

These culinary methods underscore the often underappreciated resourcefulness and adaptability of ancient peoples. By leveraging every possible source of nutrition, they built a diet that supported their rigorous and mobile lifestyle, laying the formidable foundations for some of history’s most fearsome warriors…

Gym bros, are you brave enough to take a sip?