Aged to perfection?
In a spot of malodorous news this fine Sunday afternoon, a team of researchers from the Universities of Catania and Cairo have discovered what could very well be the world’s oldest solid cheese in the Tomb of Ptahmes - which is estimated to be over 3,200 years-old. We do not want to imagine the smell.
The ancient dairy specimen appears to be a lavish mix of sheep, goat and cow’s milk, according to proteomic biomolecular analyses (science magic) performed by the researchers. Ptahmes was the mayor of Thebes and a pretty high-ranking officer back in the kingdoms of both Seti I and Ramses; a period of time from 1290 and 1213 B.C, and though there’s no concrete evidence that the well-aged cheese may have belonged to him, we’re going to choose to believe that it did.
What’s more, researchers have discovered an ancient strain of bacterium within the cheese; a certain Brucella melitensis, which is responsible for brucellosis, an infectious disease colloquially known as ‘Mediterranean Fever’.
Was it an example of the ancient tradition of leaving food in tombs to nourish the dead in the afterlife? Or was it just a burial for the cheese itself? We may yet live to uncover its secrets.
Main image from Stravaganza.