• Monday, July 13, 2020

World's oldest cheese found on the chest of a 3,500-year-old mummy

Discussion in 'Members Club' started by p(-)0ENiX, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. p(-)0ENiX

    p(-)0ENiX FULL MEMBER

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    There's nothing quite like a nice, aged cheese, but even the most adventurous cheese connoisseurs would be put off by a recent discovery from an an ancient Chinese tomb. Archaeologists uncovered perfectly preserved mummies whose chests were sprinkled with extra aged, 3,5000-year-old cheese—the world's oldest cheese by a long shot.

    Since dairy has a tendency to decay pretty quickly, cheese isn't exactly known for its staying power. It just so happened that the conditions at Small River Cemetery Number 5 in northwestern China—the site at which the cheese-covered mummies were discovered—created the perfect storm of prime cheese preservation. USA Today explains:

    The cheese isn't just remarkable for its age, though; the discovery also sheds light on the ancient cheese-making technologies. An analysis showed that the cheese had been made using a mix of bacteria and yeast, creating something that we might liken to cottage cheese that was also lactose-free.

    And while scientists do have evidence of cheese-making strainers dating back over 7000 years, any cheese from that time is, presumably, long gone by now. Here's to hoping the archaeologists take a page out of this scientist's book.


    In a finding that puts even the most well-aged cheese to shame, researchers say they've discovered the world's oldest variety — dating way back to 1615 BC — buried with ancient mummies in China.

    As USA Today reports, the cheese was found in clumps on the bodies of well-preserved mummies (including the one shown above) in China's Small River Cemetery Number 5. The location is unique, because bodies interred in the region were essentially freeze-dried, meaning their features, clothing, and culinary accompaniments are still discernible even thousands of years later. In large part, that incredible preservation is due to a combination of dry air, salty earth, and tightly-sealed burial conditions.

    The cheese itself, which was found over a series of archeological digs dating back to 2002, was identified using analysis of protein and fat content. Investigators speculate that the cheese was made using a kefir starter (bacteria and yeast) which is then combined with milk. The majority of today's cheeses, in contrast, rely on rennet — an enzyme taken from an animal's gut — to curdle milk and yield a final product. But the kefir strategy, researchers say, makes sense: it's significantly easier because it doesn't necessitate the slaughter of a young animal, and kefir-based cheese is lower in lactose, which aligns with the prevalent lactose intolerance among Asian populations. More details on the researchers' methods and analyses will be laid out in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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  2. Dubious

    Dubious RETIRED MOD

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    :blink:
     
  3. p(-)0ENiX

    p(-)0ENiX FULL MEMBER

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    Yeah, we should grab some bread & head over to the cemetery. That would be a breakfast no one could ever forget. :laughcry:
     
  4. Dubious

    Dubious RETIRED MOD

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    Yuck...But I thought cheese gets mold and stuff...didnt think it would stay like cheese....
     
  5. p(-)0ENiX

    p(-)0ENiX FULL MEMBER

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    Lol! :lol:

    Yeah, but the first article indicates that it was the "conditions" of cemetery that allowed the cheese to preserved. I am assuming that those "conditions" are likely to be a mix of weather & geographical conditions, which the second article itself indicates. By dehydrating the bodies & sealing the cemetery itself shut implies that the cheese's reaction to the elements is going to be limited, leading to preservatory conditions.

    I hope some researcher tries some of that cheese just to let us know what it's like. :enjoy:

    Did you visit the hyperlink in the text "this scientist's book"? Apparently, a scientist drank from an over 1.5 billion year old water cache that had been contained underneath a rock to simply test what it's like.

    Scientist Drinks Billion-Year-Old Water Just to See What It's Like
     
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  6. Hamartia Antidote

    Hamartia Antidote ELITE MEMBER

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    Was it between their toes?
     
  7. p(-)0ENiX

    p(-)0ENiX FULL MEMBER

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    :lol:

    Apparently, it was present on the bodies of the mummies themselves for whatever strange reason. Why didn't they just place it in some container?
     
  8. Dubious

    Dubious RETIRED MOD

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    Yea that was disgusting!!

    I remember when we were doing some field exercise in the jungle...My supervisor tricked the whole class into testing some mud ...when we refused he stared at us as though we have no adventure sense when we tasted it ....he was like you have no idea what animal may have pissed there...seriously half of us would have removed his balls and fed it to the same animal! :blink:

    prob like throwing rice at weddings...some tradition..."protection" maybe the smelly cheese was to scare away some spirits :undecided:
     
  9. p(-)0ENiX

    p(-)0ENiX FULL MEMBER

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    Yeah, drinking water that old is disgusting, but I guess some people consider that a part of research. I remember hearing about scientists that wanted to describe the taste of cyanide, but they died before being able to utter or write a word.

    So you ate the mud? :laughcry:

    Seriously though, tasting ancient cheese, wine, or water is sort off different from eating mud, anyone could do that. Lol! :lol:

    I think the tradition of throwing rice has something to do with fertility, & is actually a pretty old custom. The ancient world even had Goddesses associated with fertility such as Aphrodite or Ishtar.

    The cheese might have something to do with giving the dead something to eat on their journey to the next world. If I am not mistaken, ancient Egyptians had a similar custom of providing food for the deceased.
     
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  10. Edison Chen

    Edison Chen SENIOR MEMBER

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    Please eat it
     
  11. Dubious

    Dubious RETIRED MOD

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    Not everyone gets to taste tropical peat :ashamed: Plus we were tricked into it....

    Yea rice = fertility based on the number of something...
     
  12. p(-)0ENiX

    p(-)0ENiX FULL MEMBER

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    Most normal people won't be willing to do that because the cheese has been lying on corpses & is simply too old. It might have been different for some individuals had it been lying in a separate container or something. Besides, the comments about tasting ancient cheese are just jokes, but that doesn't rule out the possibility that someone might still be willing to do it as evident from the story of the scientist that drank from an over 1.5 billion year old water cache.

    Haha! I guess that's different then, but I still wouldn't do it.

    Think of it this way, as long as you didn't get sick, it was probably clean. :lol:

    Number of what?
     
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  13. Dubious

    Dubious RETIRED MOD

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    It was nasty! :blink:


    I am not sure....Never actually read up about it in details... :undecided:
     
  14. DESERT FIGHTER

    DESERT FIGHTER ELITE MEMBER

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    Where is her kid?
     
  15. Dubious

    Dubious RETIRED MOD

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    Whose kid?