We've covered the history of margarine, but the development of real dairy butter goes back further than written records. When dairy farmers found that agitation separates the fat from the liquid in milk, the result was a delicious substance that made everything else taste better. They were making butter long before the butter churn we know was invented.
You wouldn’t recognize the world’s earliest butters. For one thing, they were made from the milk of sheep, yak, and goats, not from cow’s milk. Domesticated cattle came much later in man’s conquest of various animals. From as early as 9000 BCE in the region of what is now Iran, communities relied on domestic sheep and goats, which are less intimidating in size and have comfort-loving dispositions that early man coaxed into submission. In the Near East, domesticated goats functioned as a virtual power tool and dairy plant for early man as well, defoliating the scrubby land as they grazed so it could then be cultivated. The animals turned this coarse plant diet into a ready source of good meat and milk. Goat’s skin, being nonporous, also provided an excellent milk vessel.
But water buffalo milk made better butter, or at least more of it. There's a lot more to the history of butter, as you'll see in an excerpt from the book Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova, at Lucky Peach. -via Digg