World’s oldest cheese found in Egypt
A few years ago, a team of archaeologists cleaning sand from an ancient Egyptian tomb discovered a group of broken jars, one of them containing a mysterious white substance.
The team had guesses as to what the material might be, but a new analysis published in the journal Analytical Chemistry offers an answer: What they found during that excavation was an approximately 3,200-year-old piece of cheese, one of the oldest solid specimens discovered.
The tomb in which the cheese was found belonged to Ptahmes, a high-ranking Egyptian official in the 13th century B.C. and the former mayor of the ancient city of Memphis, according to the paper. His burial site was first unearthed in 1885, but was lost to shifting sands until its rediscovery in 2010.
The ancient cheese, which was sometimes included in the feasts buried alongside wealthy Egyptians, was probably similar in consistency to chevre, but with a “really, really acidy” bite, according to Paul Kindstedt, a professor at the University of Vermont who studies the chemistry and history of cheese.