2,600-year-old blocks of cheese found in pottery at pyramid in Egypt



Archaeologists uncovered a collection of pottery vessels — one containing ancient cheese — at a site in Egypt.

Researchers made the discovery as they began their sixth season of excavation work at the Saqqara necropolis, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiq-uities said on Sept. 10.

Outside, the pottery had Demotic writing on them, an ancient Egyptian script, the ministry said. Inside, the vessels contained blocks of white cheese, experts said.

The cheese dated back to the 26th or 27th Egyp-tian dynasty, archaeologists said, or about 2,600 years ago, according to the Met Museum. Research-ers identified the cheese as halloumi.

Halloumi is a type of cheese from Cyprus, known for its characteristic squeak, All Recipes says. The cheese tastes “slightly tangy” and has a “salty flavor with a spongy texture,” the outlet says.

Researchers did not say what the 2,600-year-old halloumi cheese tasted or smelled like. A similar discovery of 3,200-year-old cheese prompted dis-cussions about eating the “world’s oldest cheese,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported in 2018. Experts warned this cheese contained a poten-tially deadly disease, the outlet reported, citing an Analytical Chemistry study. Eating the ancient Egyptian cheese was not recommended, Insider reported in 2018.

Archaeologists found another set of vessels — still sealed — that they planned to open in the coming days, the ministry said.

The Saqqara necropolis — also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English — is a village in Giza about 15 miles south of Cairo. Saqqara boasts Egypt’s oldest pyramid and largest archeological site, National News reported.

Past archaeological excavations at Saqqara have uncovered eight tombs, a cemetery, over 100 coffins, and hundreds of other statues of cats and ancient Egyptian gods, the ministry said.—AP


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