Saturday, 15 December, 2018

World’s oldest cheese found in Egypt

The cheese had been made with a combination cows milk combined with sheep's or goats The cheese had been made with a combination cows milk combined with sheep's or goats
Ben Pena | 18 August, 2018, 18:31

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.

A jar found contained solidified whitish mass.

But for Dr. Enrico Greco, an Italian researcher who led an effort to chemically analyze what his team called "probably the most ancient archaeological solid residue of cheese ever found to date", the expired snack is just as much a snapshot of the distant past as it is a culinary curiosity. In a journal article, they described finding a substance in ancient Egyptian jars that they suspected to be cheese dating back to 3200 B.C. The samples, they wrote, had "no smell and only a dusty taste".

The tomb of the Memphis city official was found to contain murals showing various barter scenes featuring cheese, a product that had a medicinal use in ancient times.

It 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.

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In one of the broken jars, researchers found a "solidified, whitish" mass, wrapped in a piece of canvas, researchers said.

Kindstedt said others have discovered traces of older cheese or yogurt (the two can be hard to distinguish), Kindstedt said. "For this reason we can say that it is the oldest solid cheese ever found to date". They indicated a dairy product made from cow milk with either sheep or goat milk.

If the researchers' suspicions are confirmed, the 3,200-year-old sample will also provide the world's oldest reported biomolecular evidence of brucellosis. It's a disease that spreads to animals to people, typically after eating unpasteurised dairy products.

Dr Greco said: "The interactions for thousands of years with the strong alkaline environment of the incorporating soil rich in sodium carbonate and the desertic conditions did not prevent the identification of specific peptide markers which showed high stability under these stressing conditions".

But other proteins in the food suggest it was contaminated with Brucella melitensis - a bacterium that causes potentially deadly brucellosis.

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