World’s oldest cheese found in Egypt

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World’s oldest cheese found in Egypt

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

They also considered the characteristics of the canvas fabric, deducing that it was more suitable for containing a solid rather than liquid.

Eating the world's oldest cheese may prove deadly as scientists believe that it has been contaminated with the bacterium known as Brucella melitensis, which is easily transmitted from animals to humans through the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products.

Despite finding the cheese, scientists have not been able to find the mummified body of Ptahmes nor the rest of his family.

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

The cheese in question was discovered among a large cache of broken clay jars inside the tomb of Ptahmes, former mayor of Memphis (ancient Egypt, not Tennessee) and a high-ranking official during the reigns of pharaohs Seti I and Ramesses II.

It was buried in the 19th dynasty tomb of the Ptahmes, mayor of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis.

"The archaeologists suspected it was a kind of food left for the owner of the tomb and they made a decision to ask for chemical analyses", Dr. Greco of Sicily's University of Catania told Australian media.

"Altogether, these data confidently suggested that the investigated archaeological organic sample represents a cheese-like product obtained using bovine milk mixed with milk from ovine (goat or sheep)", the researchers wrote.

It was soon lost under drifting sands, only to be recovered more than a century later.

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.

"In conclusion, even if very ancient kefir or milk or dairy residues, coming from North African, Chinese and European excavations have been found and analyzed, the present sample represent the oldest solid cheese so far discovered".

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.

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