World's Oldest Cheese Discovered In Egyptian Tomb Contains Potentially Deadly Bacteria

18 August, 2018, 18:29 | Author: Tina Rodriquez
  • Four pillars from the Tomb of Ptahmes in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden the Netherlands

Should archeologists unearth ancient crackers that'll pair well with sarcophagus juice and diseased cheese, all we'll need is a ouija board for the ultimate cursed game night.

Imagine being so old that the American Chemical Society (ACS) devotes an entire press release to your very existence, describing you as a "solidified whitish mass". The chemical scientist at Catania University in Italy believes it is the most ancient solid cheese ever found. I don't think they had pizza back in ancient Egypt, but apparently, the ancient Pharaohs did have cheese.

And while the sample retrieved by Greco's colleagues may be old, others have discovered traces of ancient cheese or yogurt (the two can be hard to distinguish) that long predate even the recent finding, Kindstedt said.

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 tomb was initially unearthed in 1885 by a group of treasure hunters who ransacked the spot, taking innumerable riches - but not the cheese!




In one of the broken jars, researchers found a "solidified, whitish" mass, wrapped in a piece of canvas, researchers said. This revealed peptides which indicated that the substance was a dairy product, and that it was made from cow milk and sheep or goat milk. In 2014, researchers found "cheese" buried with female mummies in Xinjiang, China, dating to 3,800 years old.

"The archaeologists suspected it was a kind of food left for the owner of the tomb and they chose to ask for chemical analyses", said lead author Enrico Greco, a leader in the new field of ancient food discoveries known as 'archaeofood'. "The constituting material was a dairy product obtained by mixing sheep or goat and cow milk".

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

It was riddled with a bacteria called Brucella Melitensis, which is potentially deadly and can cause stomach ache and a fever as well as other symptoms. The texture of this fabric suggested that the food had been solid when it was interred alongside Ptahmes a few millennia ago - in other words, the find probably wasn't a jar of ancient spoiled milk.

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