The world’s oldest cheese discovered in an ancient tomb, turned deadly

People have long produced and consumed cheeses, and the recent discovery of cheese by age of 3200 years old Egyptian tomb was proof of that. Although this cheese for some palates could be a delicacy, it also has become a source of disease. This week in the journal Analytical Chemistry appeared a study in which scientists described the discovery was “probably the oldest archaeological example of cheese.” “Solidified white mass” from the 13th century BC was discovered in the Bank and, despite 30 centuries of stay in the harsh desert conditions, the compound contained enough of the original chemical content, in order to understand its cheesy origins.

The tomb, which was a bowl of cheese, was originally discovered in 1885, but subsequently forgotten and lost because the Sands of the Sahara it covered. In 2010 alone, the place was re-opened and revised by French archaeologists. Looters and the robbers had surrounded the tomb, but the cheese somehow not touched.

The oldest cheese: edible or not?

Almost 33 centuries of exposure to the strong alkaline environment of the desert have changed the chemical nature of the sample (especially the fat content), complicating the analysis of the white substance. Proteins are thoroughly analyzed using mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography. Despite years of decay, the cheese still managed to identify. The analysis showed that this milk product was obtained by mixing the milk of goats, sheep and, strangely enough, the African Buffalo — this type is usually not associated with livestock in Africa. Analysis of the canvas, which was covered with cheese, showed that it is good for the storage of solid and liquid substances.

The scientists also found traces of peptides corresponding to the caused by Brucella melitensis — bacteria that causes brucellosis. It is not surprising that this cheese was unpasteurized, and therefore is extremely dangerous, albeit delicious, food.

What was it like? Texture similar to goat cheese, but with a “very, very acidic” taste, says Paul, Quenstedt, Professor at the University of Vermont. It could be spread on bread.

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