Scientists discover world's oldest cheese buried on mummies
The cheese was discovered buried in China's Taklamakan Desert
Scientists believe they may have found the world’s oldest cheese discovered among mummified bodies in China's Taklamakan Desert, dating back as far as 1615 BC.
Blocks of the cheese were found around the neck and chest of the Beauty of Xiaohe. Researchers believe the cheese may have been buried with the mummies so they could enjoy it in the afterlife.
The Xiaohe tomb complex was first discovered by Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman in 1934. Full archaeological excavations were finally undertaken between 2002 and 2004 by the Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute.
The Taklamakan Desert’s hot dry sand and arid land provides excellent conditions for mummification. The burial conditions also may have created a vacuum- like environment that would have helped to preserve the cheese, researchers said.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics collected 13 samples of organic matter from ten tombs and mummies, including the Beauty of Xiaohe, in the Small River Cemetery Number 5.
Protein analysis performed in Dresden showed the organic material was a cheese made by robust, easily scalable kefir fermentation. Researcher Andrej Shevchenko told USA Today the team collected evidence to suggest skimmed ruminant milk was combined with bacteria and yeast used to make a kefir cheese.
"We not only identified the product as the earliest-known cheese, but we also have direct evidence of ancient technology," he said.
"It's the earliest known dairy practice that persists until present times in an almost unchanged way," University of Chinese Academy of Sciences archaeologist Yimin Yang told Discovery News.
"The discovery moves the mysterious history of kefir as far as to the second millennium BC, making it the oldest known dairy fermentation method."
The findings were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engine...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
£32000 - £38000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Serv...
£38000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Virt...