Mmmm: 3,200 Year Old Cheese Found In Ancient Egyptian Tomb

August 22, 2018


This is a shot of the ancient cheese that was discovered filling a ceramic jar buried alongside Ptahmes, a former governor of Memphis, Egypt (from1290-1213 BC). I remember spending some time in Memphis in Assassins Creed: Origins. Good times, killed a lot of bad people. But enough about my wicked assassin skills before I remember all the civilians I accidentally ran over with my chariot, what about the cheese?

Analysis showed that the dairy product was produced by mixing milk from goat, sheep, and, strangely, African buffalo--a species not typically associated with domestic animals kept and milked in modern Africa. Analysis of the canvas cloth showed it was good for holding solid, and not liquid, substances; this cloth was likely used to cover the cheese, or the possibly the top of the jar.

But the researchers also found peptide markers consistent with Brucella melitensis--a bacterium that causes brucellosis. Not surprisingly, this cheese was unpasteurized, making it a potentially dangerous, albeit tasty, food.

Brucellosis isn't typically fatal, but it is nasty. Symptoms include fever, night sweats, malaise, and muscle pain, with long-term health issues including arthritis, swelling of the testicles, chronic fatigue, and endocarditis (swelling of the heart), among many other conditions.

Well of course the cheese was unpasteurized and contained some undesirable bacteria -- it was made 3,200 years ago. Louis Pasteur didn't develop the pasteurization process until the 1880's. That said, I'm pretty I recently ate some bad cheese and have developed brucellosis myself. I have a lot of the symptoms: night sweats, muscle pain, chronic fatigue and, perhaps most noticeable, swollen testicles. Just kidding they've always been this big you want me to wrecking ball my cubicle wall to prove it or what?

Thanks to Dan G, who agrees they should at least auction little pieces off for adventurous eaters like myself.

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