Oldest solid cheese found in ancient Egyptian jar

World's Oldest Cheese Discovered From Egyptian Tomb Researchers

World's Oldest Cheese Discovered From Egyptian Tomb Researchers

Cheese-making has been depicted on wall murals of ancient Egyptian tombs from 2,000 B.C. Also, a 2012 study published in the science journal Nature traces the earliest evidence of the industry to the 6th millennium B.C.in northern Europe, some 7,000 years ago.

A jar found contained solidified whitish mass. Researchers found that a unusual mass they found near a grave in the great ancient city of Alexandria appears to be the world's oldest solid cheese.

The team of archaeologists from the Universities of Cairo and Catania, found the festering cheese buried in a tomb that was first unearthed in 1885.

To the many attributes of Ptahmes - scribe of Ramses II, high priest of Amun, mayor of Memphis - we can add one that is a little more familiar: cheese-lover.

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.

The ancient cheese looked like this, but 3,300 years older and likely a million times moldier.

The peptides detected by these techniques show the constituting material was a dairy product obtained by mixing sheep/goat and cow milk.

Kindstedt said others have discovered traces of older cheese or yogurt (the two can be hard to distinguish), Kindstedt said.

The cheese was found in broken jars. The disease is typically contracted from eating unpasteurized dairy products.

"The archaeologists suspected it was food, according to the conservation method and the position of the finding inside the tomb, but we discovered it was cheese after the first tests", Enrico Greco, the lead author of the paper and a research assistant at Peking University in Beijing, said in an email.

Greco's cheese was dated back to Egypt's 19th dynasty, thousands of years before the scientific basis of pasteurization, food safety and even germ theory would be conceived.

Adventurous eaters be warned: The cheese may not be cursed, but the analysis found evidence of a bacteria that causes brucellosis, an infectious disease that can cause fevers, headaches, muscle pain and other symptoms that can reoccur or never go away at all.

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