Ancient Egyptian pharaohs’ necropolis has cheese pots that are 2,600 years old

Archaeologists discovered blocks of ancient cheese dating back around 2,600 years at the Saqqara necropolis in Egypt.

The cheese, which researchers identified as halloumi, was found inside pottery during a new round of excavations, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Researchers said the cheese dates back to the 26th or 27th Egyptian dynasty, between 688 and 525 BC.

Excavators uncovered several artifacts with Demotic script – the ancient Egyptian writing also seen on the Rosetta Stone. Other vessels were also discovered but are yet to be opened, the statement said.

Dr. Mustafa Waziri, the secretary general of the supreme council for archeology, said that Ancient Egyptians used to call the white cheese “haram,” which became known as “halloum” in Coptic times.

The cheese, made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk with a squeaky texture, came to be known as halloumi.

Cheese is believed to have long been a part of the Egyptian diet, with evidence of cheese-making dating back  5,000 years to Egypt’s first dynasty.

The Egyptian Antiquities Mission has been excavating the Saqqara necropolis since 2018. It contains ancient burial grounds of Egyptian royalty and pharaohs and the 4,700-year-old Step Pyramid of Djoser.

Previous excavations have found eight tombs, more than 100 sealed wooden coffins, and dozens of statues of gods, according to the ministry.

The site, a village in Giza about 15 miles south of Cairo, has Egypt’s oldest pyramid and one of its largest archeological sites.

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