Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

White stuff from tomb is world's oldest cheese

White stuff from tomb is world's oldest cheese

The tomb is located south of Cairo in Saqqara, also known as the "City of the Dead", and houses ancient artifacts like amulets, clay vessels, and figurines.

Researchers have found the world's most ancient solid cheese in a 3,200-year-old Egyptian tomb, as well as evidence of a potentially deadly disease.

The world's oldest cheese, dating back more than 3,000 years, has been discovered inside an Egyptian tomb, scientists have said.

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Dr Greco said: "The tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of Memphis and high-ranking official under the Pharaohs Sethi I and Ramses II (1290-1213 B.C.) of the XIX dynasty was rediscovered in 2010 after a part of it was revealed in 1885 and lost under the sands at the end of the 19th century". Archaeologists working on the ancient tomb of Ptahmes, dated to the 13th century BC, recently came face to face with a sample of Egyptian cheese, which they claim could be the oldest sample of solid cheese ever found. The ancient Egyptians were no exception, making solid cheese to supplement their already hearty diet of beer, bread, onions and lentils.

The 3,300-year-old cheese can not be tested for its flavour as it was found to be laced with a deadly bacteria.

And, in a study published by the journal Analytical Chemistry this week, they have been pretty clear that this gunk was cheese. The cheese would also have once been of the hard variety, as Dr. Enrico Greco, a chemical scientist from Catania University, explained.

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The cheese was found in broken jars. If the team's preliminary analysis is confirmed, the sample would represent the earliest reported biomolecular evidence of brucellosis. 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.

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.

It's typically the result of eating unpasteurized dairy products.

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"As I say to my students every year when I get to Egypt, someone has to go ahead and analyze these residues with modern capabilities", said Kindstedt, who added that he plans to use Greco's paper in his teachings this fall.

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