Vintage Gouda may be aged for five years, some cheddar for a decade. They’re both under-ripe youngsters compared with yellowish clumps – found on the necks and chests of Chinese mummies – now revealed to be the world’s oldest cheese.
The Chinese cheese dates back as early as 1615 BC, making it by far the most ancient ever discovered. Thanks to the quick decay of most dairy products, there isn’t even a runner-up. The world’s best-aged cheese seems to be a lactose-free variety that was quick and convenient to make and may have played a role in the spread of herding and dairying across Asia.
"We not only identified the product as the earliest known cheese, but we also have direct … evidence of ancient technology," Read more.
Beijing: Chinese archaeologists have carefully stripped the 2,200-year-old clothing from four mummies in order to prevent the delicate outfits from decaying with the dried corpses.
Three skulls and four mandible bones of different sizes have been uncovered so far, leading archaeologists to believe they belonged to one man, two women, and a little boy.
"It may be a family buried together, including a husband and two wives with one child," Xu Dongliang with the Academia Turfanica, who joined the undressing work that began on November 20, said.
Among the clothes were woollen pants, knitted mantles, fabric coats, silk scarves, and brightly-coloured sheepskin boots, which offer a glimpse into the delicate handicrafts of that time. Read more.
Care for some ribs? The royal mummies of ancient Egypt apparently did, as a new study finds that “meat mummies” left in Egyptian tombs as sustenance for the afterlife were treated with elaborate balms to preserve them.
Mummified cuts of meat are common finds in ancient Egyptian burials, with the oldest dating back to at least 3300 B.C. The tradition extended into the latest periods of mummification in the fourth century A.D. The famous pharaoh King Tutankhamun went to his final resting place accompanied by 48 cases of beef and poultry. Read more.
Two pre-Columbian mummies more than a thousand years old were found in a pre-Incan cemetery in a suburb of Lima, archeologists said Thursday.
"This is one of the most important finds in more than three decades of excavation, because both mummies are intact," Gladys Paz told AFP at the foot of the Huaca Pucllana tomb, an ancient religious complex in the Miraflores neighborhood.
The first signs of the tomb were found five days ago, but the process of unearthing the mummies of an adult and child took time.
The Pacific Ocean and Lima’s concrete buildings are visible from part of the huaca—a Quechua word for religious sites—that towers more than 20 meters (66 feet) high. Read more.
Three Incan children who were sacrificed 500 years ago were regularly given drugs and alcohol in their final months to make them more compliant in the ritual that ultimately killed them, new research suggests.
Archaeologists analyzed hair samples from the frozen mummies of the three children, who were discovered in 1999, entombed within a shrine near the 22,100-foot (6,739 meters) summit of the Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco. The samples revealed that all three children consistently consumed coca leaves (from which cocaine is derived) and alcoholic beverages, but the oldest child, the famed “Maiden,” ingested markedly more of the substances. Coca was a highly controlled substance during the height of the Inca Empire, when the children were sacrificed. Read more.
The hair of mummies from the town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile reveals the people in the region had a nicotine habit spanning from at least 100 B.C. to A.D. 1450.
Additionally, nicotine consumption occurred on a society-wide basis, irrespective of social status and wealth, researchers say.
The finding refutes the popular view that the group living in this region smoked tobacco for just a short stint before moving on to snuffing hallucinogens.
"The idea was that around A.D. 400, people in San Pedro de Atacama (SPA) smoked tobacco in pipes, and then after that time, they gradually switched to inhaling dimethyltryptamines in snuffing trays," said study co-author Hermann Niemeyer, an organic chemist at the University of Chile in Santiago. "What we show is that’s not correct." Read more.
he ancient Egyptians could soon be getting their genomes sequenced as a matter of routine. That’s the view, at least, of the first researchers to use next-generation techniques to analyse DNA from Egyptian mummies.
In a preliminary study that the authors describe as “a first step”, they detected hints of one of the mummies’ ancestral origins, as well as pathogens and a range of plant materials presumably used in the embalming process. The researchers, led by Carsten Pusch, a geneticist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, published their findings last week in the Journal of Applied Genetics.
Previous studies of DNA from Egyptian mummies have used a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify specific segments of DNA. But these studies have been controversial. Read more.
Whether laid to rest in a simple grave or a grand tomb, the human body rarely survives the sweep of time. But in a few places where people deliberately mummified their dead, or the environmental conditions were right—very dry or wet—flesh and bone are preserved.
Today these remains, probed by modern CT scans, MRIs, and DNA tests, are offering intriguing insights into how people lived and died long ago.
A 2011 study of 52 mummies in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo showed that almost half had clogged arteries, the kind of condition that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
What was to blame? Too much beer and bread? Not enough exercise? Chronic inflammation? Or perhaps some genetic predisposition of the interbred royals? Experts could only wonder. Read more.