Archaeologists were clearing sand from a 19th Dynasty Egyptian tomb in the Saqqara necropolis when they stumbled across an ancient piece of oldest cheese. The tomb of Ptahmes in Memphis was discovered in 1885, but was later engulfed by quicksand and was not unearthed again until 2010.
The solid white object was found during excavations in 2013 and 2014, along with a piece of cloth that may have been used to cover the jar to help preserve it. Research has found that the 3,200-year-old cheese is made from a mixture of cow’s milk and goat or sheep milk.
Enrico Greco, the author of the research report, said that due to rain and flooding of the Nile River, this sample has experienced thousands of water absorption and dehydration processes. In addition, the extremely alkaline environment has changed all the fat components. This cannot be made by traditional technology. .
Human cheese-making technology appeared in ancient Egyptian tomb murals as early as 2000 BC. Another study published in Science magazine in 2012 traced the earliest evidence of human cheese-making in Northern Europe about 7,000 years ago. .
Another major finding of the study was the finding of signs of a bacterium that can cause the fatal brucellosis disease, often caused by eating unpasteurized dairy products.
According to the study, if confirmed, this would be “the first direct biological molecular evidence” of the existence of brucellosis in the Pharaonic era.
Greco said osteoarticular effects on mummified bones confirm the presence of brucellosis in ancient Egypt, which could represent “Egyptians ingesting contaminated cheese or milk.”