While the sample from Ptahmes's tomb may have been diseased, ancient people actually used cheese as medicine, Dr Greco said.
Aged cheeses might have an appeal but a 3,200-year-old sample of the popular dairy product found in Egypt may be just a little too old - and diseased - for even the most dedicated cheese connoisseurs. However, it took over a century before researchers and archaeologists were able to return and when a group of archaeologists did between 2013 and 2014, they also discovered several broken jars, one of which contained a odd solid, powdery, and whitish mass as well as a canvass cloth that may have once covered the jar. One of those broken jars contained a solidified whitish mass inside along with a canvas fabric that could have covered the jar originally. The ancient Egyptians were no exception, making solid cheese to supplement their already hearty diet of beer, bread, onions and lentils. In his tomb scientists found the remains of a hard cheese that had been maturing for 3,300 years. "For this reason we can say that it is the oldest solid cheese ever found to date".
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Eating the world's oldest cheese may prove deadly as scientists believe that it has been contaminated with the bacterium known as Brucella melitensis, which is easily transmitted from animals to humans through the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products. If confirmed, it would be "the first biomolecular direct evidence" of the disease's existence during the pharaonic period, according to the study.
To date, only indirect signs of brucellosis have been discovered on Egyptian bones that date back to 750 BCE. The texture of this fabric suggested that the food had been solid when it was interred alongside Ptahmes a few millennia ago - in other words, the find probably wasn't a jar of ancient spoiled milk.