World’s oldest cheese found in mummies
The ancient cheese was attached to the bodies of Bronze Age mummies.Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be the world’s oldest cheese. The astonishingly well-preserved cheese was buried beneath China’s Taklamakan Desert some 3,600 years ago and was affixed to the chests and necks of ancient Chinese mummies, a delicious snack for the dead to nibble on during their journey into the afterlife, ibtimes has reported.
According to Discovery News, the mummies were first discovered in 1934 by a Swedish archaeologist at a 17th century B.C. burial site known as the Small River Cemetery No. 5, which lies in the barren, dry desert of China’s northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang. When archaeologists began to excavate the Bronze Age cemetery, they found 200 or so mummies. The mummies, still wearing the clothes they were buried in, were entombed in upside-down boats and covered in cowhide.
Dry and salty air protects
Attached to the mummies’ necks and chests were chunks of yellow cheese. The mummies and their cheese did not decay because of the conditions of the burial site. Live Science reports that the dry air and salty soil kept the mummies and the ancient cheese well preserved for thousands of years.
The particular cheese found in Xinjiang was simple to make and showed knowledge of basic fermenting, according to a study of the world’s oldest cheese published Feb. 18 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
“We not only identified the product as the earliest known cheese, but we also have direct evidence of ancient technology,” study author Andrej Shevchenko said.
cientists gathered 13 samples of the yellow organic cheese and took it to a lab for inspection. A chemical analysis of the cheese revealed that the people who made it used microbes.