World's oldest cheese found in Egyptian tomb

Anyone who eats the Brie-C snack could be cursed from beyond the grave by a deadly fever

Anyone who eats the Brie-C snack could be cursed from beyond the grave by a deadly fever

The team dissolved the white glob, purified its protein constituents, and analyzed them using a process that separates different parts of a liquid called liquid chromatography.

The peptides detected revealed the cheese had been made with a combination cows' milk combined with sheep's or goats'.

Ancient Egyptians may have dodged a potentially life-threatening bout of illness by not eating the cheese, after researchers found the specimen contained signs of a bacterium known to cause brucellosis, a deadly disease spread from animals to people via unpasteurised dairy.

If the findings, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, are confirmed it would represent the earliest reported evidence of the disease.

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. One of those broken jars contained a solidified whitish mass inside along with a canvas fabric that could have covered the jar originally.

Dr Enrico Greco, a chemical scientist at Catania University in Italy, said: 'The material analysed in this study is probably the most ancient archeological solid residue of cheese ever found to date.




Shortly after a group of archeologists announced that they'd found the world's oldest cheese buried in an Egyptian tomb, the internet decided that it wanted a taste of the ancient snack.

At the time, researchers were unaware of the presence of cheese, and the tomb was later lost under drifting sands. "The constituting material was a dairy product obtained by mixing sheep or goat and cow milk".

'The characteristic of the canvas made it unsuitable for containing liquid or, in general, non solid-materials.

"The sample in this study was discovered during the excavation procedures of Cairo University in the season 2013-2014".

Greco said not everything in the jar was cheese because the site underwent "a series of very high cyclical environmental stresses", contaminating the cheese with sand and soil.

Greco said researchers already have information about the disease in ancient Egypt, but evidence has only ever come from the analysis of mummy bones, making this find the first of its kind.

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