World’s oldest cheese found buried with Chinese mummies

Feb 27, 2014
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World’s oldest cheese found buried with Chinese mummies

When you think of mummies, odds are you mind goes to Egypt automatically. The Egyptians weren't the only people to mummify their dead in ancient times. A group of archaeologists studying Chinese mummies has made an interesting discovery that has nothing to do with the mummification process itself. The team has discovered what they say is the world's oldest cheese.

The ancient cheese was discovered placed on the necks of Chinese mummies that were found buried in upside down boats in an ancient cemetery in the Taklimakan desert. The mummies were dated to about 1615 B.C. by the researchers.

The samples of ancient cheese left on the necks of the mummies were a yellowish, low-lactose cheese. This sort of cheese would have been easy to make and not very time consuming to produce according to researchers. The scientists believe that cheese played a roll in spreading herding and dairying across Asia.

The cheese would have been made by mixing milk with a starter mix of bacteria and yeast. This same technique is still used today for making Kefir cheese. A couple reasons the cheese samples survived so long are the arid conditions and the salt filled soil that surrounded the mummies according to researchers. The conditions also preserved the mummies and their clothing. The team found felt hats, wool capes, and leather boots on the bodies.

SOURCE: ScienceworldReport


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