Egyptian tomb cheese is mega-mature


The cheese was found by scientists in Egypt. At that time the researchers exploring the tomb found some broken jars inside. However, it took over a century before researchers and archaeologists were able to return and when a group of archaeologists did between 2013 and 2014, they also discovered several broken jars, one of which contained a unusual solid, powdery, and whitish mass as well as a canvass cloth that may have once covered the jar. One 2012 paper described how fragments of 7,000-year-old pottery found in Poland were once used as ancient cheese strainers, used to make a kind of primitive cottage cheese. It would take another 125 years for archaeologists from Cairo University to uncover the tomb again, finding several finely preserved stelae in its confines - but still no cheese!

The tomb was the final resting place of a high-rank Egyptian official, Ptahmes, who in the 13th century BC was the former mayor of the ancient city of Memphis.

The problem for those researcher's way back then was that the tomb was later lost to the sands of the desert and wasn't rediscovered until 2010. It could be the most ancient cheese ever discovered, according to the team's study, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

He added: "In conclusion, even if very ancient kefir or milk or dairy residues, coming from North African, Chinese and European excavations have been found and analysed, the present sample represent the oldest solid cheese so far discovered (3,200 BP)".

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In ancient Egypt, milk had to be consumed shortly after milking or else it would spoil without refrigeration, so it was often turned into cheese and other fermented products like yogurt. The cheese would also have once been of the hard variety, as Dr. Enrico Greco, a chemical scientist from Catania University, explained.

Per the report, an analysis of the cheese showed that it's contaminated with Brucella melitensis, which can cause a almost fatal disease called brucellosis. Evidence also suggests the cheese contains the earliest reported sample of a potentially deadly disease, brucellosis, which spreads from animals to people.

To date, only indirect signs of brucellosis have been discovered on Egyptian bones that date back to 750 BCE.