- Oct 29, 2002
- East of Suez
A substance found by archaeologists working in an Ancient Egyptian tomb has proved to be one of the oldest cheeses ever discovered.
Several years ago, the team discovered broken jars in the tomb of Ptahmes, a high-ranking Egyptian official.
The archaeologists found a "solidified whitish mass" in one of the jars which they suspected was food but were unsure which kind.
Now a study has identified it as cheese, dating from 3,200 years ago.
The discovery is significant as there has been no previous evidence of Ancient Egyptian cheese production, authors of the report, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, said.
"The material analysed is probably the most ancient archaeological solid residue of cheese ever found to date," said Dr Enrico Greco, from the University of Catania, who worked with colleagues at the Cairo University in Egypt to determine its identity.
"We know it was made mostly from sheep's and goat's milk, but for me it's really hard to imagine a specific flavour."
From The Academic Paper:
The material analyzed in this study is probably the most ancient archeological solid residue of cheese ever found to date. The sample was collected during the Saqqara Cairo University excavations in the tomb of Ptahmes dated to XIX dynasty. [...]