Researchers on an expedition as part of the Ministry of Antiquities have discovered 2,600 year old blocks of halloumi cheese. The Ministry of Antiquities is an organization that was established in 2013 to highlight Egypt’s tourism and archaeological position in the world. One of their roles is to detect antiquities, restoring and maintaining them, then recording, securing and preserving them.
According to IFL Science, an ancient Egyptian script called Demotic allowed the cheese to be dated back to the 26th & 27th Egyptian dynasties (664-404 BCE). The artifacts were inscribed with the script, which is also found on the Rosetta stone.
It’s apparent that cheese has been a popular food item to humans for thousands of years. Unfortunately, this particular cheese, which was made using milk from goats and sheep, and also has a rubbery texture, is far from edible. The blocks were found inside large vessels, expertly stored.
While the halloumi doesn’t secure the record for world’s oldest cheese, the find is impressive nonetheless. The actual record holder for world’s oldest cheese is 3,200 years old and was discovered in 2018. It reportedly is also the oldest evidence of the bacteria that caused the deadly disease brucellosis.
In a Facebook post, Dr. Mustafa Waziri of the Ministry of Antiquities pointed out that Ancient Egyptians used to call white cheese “Haram” which was changed during Coptic times to “Haloum,” now known as “Haloum cheese.”
Of the current excavation, Dr. Waziri added that there is still another set of vessels that are completely closed and the plan is to open them in the next few days to find out what secrets they contain.