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Thread: Ancient Egypt: Cheese discovered in 3,200-year-old tomb

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    Ancient Egypt: Cheese discovered in 3,200-year-old tomb

    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."

    The ancient cheese would have had a "really, really acidy" bite, cheese historian and chemistry professor Paul Kindstedt told the New York Times.

    The researchers say they also found traces of a bacterium that can cause an infectious disease known as brucellosis, which comes from consuming unpasteurised dairy products.

    Symptoms include fever, sweating and muscle aches, and the disease still exists today. If confirmed, it would be the oldest evidence of such a case.

    The tomb where the cheese was found belonged to Ptahmes, an Egyptian official who was mayor of the ancient city of Memphis.

    The burial site, at the Saqqara necropolis near Cairo, was first unearthed in 1885. But, after being lost to shifting sands, it was rediscovered in 2010.


    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45233347

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    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."

    The ancient cheese would have had a "really, really acidy" bite, cheese historian and chemistry professor Paul Kindstedt told the New York Times.

    The researchers say they also found traces of a bacterium that can cause an infectious disease known as brucellosis, which comes from consuming unpasteurised dairy products.

    Symptoms include fever, sweating and muscle aches, and the disease still exists today. If confirmed, it would be the oldest evidence of such a case.

    The tomb where the cheese was found belonged to Ptahmes, an Egyptian official who was mayor of the ancient city of Memphis.

    The burial site, at the Saqqara necropolis near Cairo, was first unearthed in 1885. But, after being lost to shifting sands, it was rediscovered in 2010.


    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45233347
    I've been saying for 10 years that before pasteurization eating milk products like soft cheese and especially drinking milk was a very risky business, especially in climates where it's really warm for long stretches of time. People always either ignored it or discounted it. Well, guess it was.

    That's not to mention getting bovine tuberculosis from milk. Unpasteurized milk can also contain salmonella, e coli, and listeria. That's part of the reason that so many babies died: they were weaned too early and put on unpasteurized milk.


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    It's very interesting to find cheese consumption in Egypt while they were being invaded by the Sea peoples. Given though everything points that they were Europeans, as were the main herders of cows and inventors of milk and cheese

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I've been saying for 10 years that before pasteurization eating milk products like soft cheese and especially drinking milk was a very risky business, especially in climates where it's really warm for long stretches of time. People always either ignored it or discounted it. Well, guess it was.

    That's not to mention getting bovine tuberculosis from milk. Unpasteurized milk can also contain salmonella, e coli, and listeria. That's part of the reason that so many babies died: they were weaned too early and put on unpasteurized milk.
    In more northern latitudes, people have to be aware about getting tick-born encephalitis if they drink unpasteurized milk (either of sheep or goat or cow)... which is quite bad. I don't know about the historic times, ticks weren't infected then perhaps, or there were fewer of them with colder winters, but in this centaury tick born diseases are rather prominent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mmiikkii View Post
    It's very interesting to find cheese consumption in Egypt while they were being invaded by the Sea peoples. Given though everything points that they were Europeans, as were the main herders of cows and inventors of milk and cheese
    The inventors of milk and cheese were Anatolian farmers living in what is now Turkey. They brought it to Europe along with farming and keeping domesticated animals.

    You can use the search engine to find all the papers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagne View Post
    In more northern latitudes, people have to be aware about getting tick-born encephalitis if they drink unpasteurized milk (either of sheep or goat or cow)... which is quite bad. I don't know about the historic times, ticks weren't infected then perhaps, or there were fewer of them with colder winters, but in this centaury tick born diseases are rather prominent
    "about 70% of encephalitis cases are viral in etiology": looks like covid spike

    So does it explain the Trepanation to be frequently happened in the steppe?




    Skull of middle-aged man with evidence of trepanation found in the Altai Mountains of Siberia (Credit: Institute of Archaeology – Will Stewart)
    https://www.ancient-origins.net/news...siberia-002640




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