'Cursed' Mummy Cheese Might Be the World's Oldest, Researchers Say


After dissolving the sample, the team purified its protein constituents and analysed them with liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.

According to The London Economic, scientists determined that this very special and ancient cheese was made by using a combination of cow's milk mixed with either the milk of sheep or goats.

Archaeologists have just discovered the most ancient and intact cheese that has ever been found anywhere in the world, and it was recovered from the Egyptian tomb of Ptahmes, the mayor of Memphis, after being left there 3,200 years ago. Nearby, they found a scrap of canvas fabric that was likely used to preserve and cover the ancient blob of food.

The explorers unearthed a jar containing a solid, whitish mass from the tomb, which was first dug up in 1885 but covered under drifting sands until 2010. Brucella melitensis, the bacteria responsible for brucellosis, is still around today and can spread from animals to people typically after consuming unpasteurized dairy products.

If the team's preliminary analysis is confirmed, the sample would represent the earliest reported biomolecular evidence of the disease.

Dr Greco said: 'The interactions for thousands of years with the strong alkaline environment of the incorporating soil rich in sodium carbonate and the desertic conditions did not prevent the identification of specific peptide markers which showed high stability under these stressing conditions'.

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In ancient Egypt, milk had to be consumed shortly after milking or else it would spoil without refrigeration, so it was often turned into cheese and other fermented products like yogurt.

"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.

Ptahmes was Mayor of Memphis and high-ranking official under the Pharaohs Sethi I and Ramses II (1290-1213 BC) of the XIX dynasty. The tomb was rediscovered in 2010, and three years later, archeologists opened the tomb and found broken jars at the site, said Enrico Greco, lead author of the study.

Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy and Cairo University in Egypt stumbled upon the cache during an excavation mission in 2013-14.

'The sample was accurately collected in order to avoid any kind of contamination'.