World’s Oldest Cheese Found in China

What wine pairs with 3,000-year-old cottage cheese?


The world’s oldest cheese is not, as you may have guessed, in a crumpled plastic baggie at the back of your fridge. It’s in China. When archaeologists uncovered mummified bodies from 1615 BC in the Taklamakan Desert in northwestern China, they found remnants of ancient cheese on the bodies’ necks and chests. According to Popular Science, the dry air and salt-heavy soil kept the cheese from decaying.

This wasn’t a cheddar or Stilton. Instead, it seems like the cheese was closer in style to a modern day cottage cheese. USA Today reports that the cheese was made quickly and cheaply with milk and a mix of bacteria and yeast instead of rennet, which is found in the guts of animals like sheep and goats. Researchers aren’t sure why the bodies were buried with the cheese, but hypothesize that it could have been intended as sustenance in the afterlife. That gives us an idea for a new clause in our wills: Bury us with burrata.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles