What a Find! 2,600-Year-Old Cheese Discovered Inside Ancient Clay Vessels

Ashley Hunte
Several wedges of cheese.
Unsplash | Alexander Maasch

A group of archeological researchers made a pretty interesting discovery while excavating a site in Egypt’s Giza Governorate. They managed to find clay pots filled with very ancient cheese.

Back in September of 2022, archeologists digging in Saqqara made the startling discovery, estimating that the cheese they'd found was several thousands of years old!

The Cheese Was Unearthed In A Significant Part Of Saqqara.

Egyptian archeologists found the vessels during an expedition in September.
Egypt Today | Twitter via Egypt Today

According to Egypt Today, the site is home to artifacts and other findings from several different eras in ancient Egyptian history.

Tombs, Temples, And Items Have Been Found There.

The pyramids of ancient Egypt.
Unsplash | Ricardo Gomez Angel

Temples from the Sixth Pharaonic Dynasty are present on the site. Statues of animals and 10-foot-long papyri scrolls have been found in the area previously.

The Saqqara Necropolis Is One Of Egypt's Largest Sites.

An archeological dig site.
Unsplash | Hulki Okan Tabak

Archeologists have been excavating the site since 2018. Among significant discoveries includes a cache filled with over 100 sarcophagi.

The Cheese Was Found In Jars.

Ancient artifacts.
Unsplash | Trnava University

The dig from September resulted in several findings, including clay pots with Demotic script. Though not all had been opened at the time of the report, the ones that had been opened contained cheese.

Demotic Script Is One Of The Languages Of Ancient Egypt.

Demotic script was present on the Rosetta Stone.
Unsplash | Matteo Vistocco

Found alongside hieroglyphics and ancient Greek, Demotic script is present on the Rosetta Stone, an important artifact and translation tool.

Reports Found That The Cheese Inside The Jars Was Halloumi.

Halloumi cheese has a high melting point and can easily be grilled.
Unsplash | Yulia Khlebnikova

The cheese itself was covered in mold but was still identifiable as Halloumi, a cheese that still exists today.

Halloumi Was Traditionally Made With Goat And Sheep's Milk.

A grilled cheese sandwich.
Unsplash | Llio Angharad

The cheese is of Cypriot origins and is popular throughout countries along the Mediterranean. Nowadays, it is commonly made of cow's milk.

It Is Known For Its Solid, Squeaky Texture.

Thick slices of cheese.
Unsplash | Aleksey Melkomukov

It is somewhat similar to mozzarella in terms of texture but has a much higher melting point.

It Can Easily Be Grilled.

A dish of tomatoes and cheese.
Giphy | Cucina Tagliani Pasta, Pizza & Vino

Halloumi is commonly used as a meat substitute because of its versatility. It can be eaten raw, but can also be grilled and placed in burgers or sandwiches.

The Earliest Record Of Halloumi Comes From The 16th Century.

The ruins of ancient Egypt.
Unsplash | Sumit Mangela

Mid-16th century Italian visitors to Cyprus reportedly wrote about this cheese. The Halloumi found in Saqqara, meanwhile, is much older than this.

It's Actually Around 2600 Years Old!

Several ancient Egyptian jars.
Ancient Origins | Public Domain

The cheese found in the vessels is estimated to have been made around 664-525 BCE.

However, It Isn't The Oldest Cheese Found In The Area.

Ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Flickr | jimsawthat

In 2018, researchers found cheese in Saqqara that dates back to 3200 years ago! It's currently the oldest cheese found in ancient Egypt.

That Cheese Reportedly Tasted Pretty Acidic.

Egyptian artifacts.
Unsplash | Jeroen van Nierop

Researchers were definitely brave to try a cheese that was thousands of years old!

No Word On Whether Researchers Tasted The Cheese From The Recent Finding.

An ancient jar.
Unsplash | Trnava University

But, it makes us excited about what they might find next!

h/t All That's Interesting

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