If you rea a food lover and a human who love ancient things this is for you.While some recipes, dishes and methods of food preparation have been passed down over centuries and even millennia, it can be difficult to determine exactly what our ancestors ate and drank. On occasion, though, archeological excavations afford us a direct insight into how people historically prepared and consumed food.
In 2010, for example, marine archeologists retrieved 168 bottles of near-perfect champagne from a Baltic Sea shipwreck. And in Jordan’s Black Desert in 2018, researchers discovered a 14,000-year-old piece of bread. These finds, and others like them, have helped further our understanding of what our ancestors ate and drank and provided a tangible link with the past. In some cases, the foodstuffs were even safe to consume or were able to be analysed and then recreated in the modern era.
From Irish ‘bog butter’ to ancient Greek salad dressing, here are 10 of the oldest foods and beverages ever discovered.
1. Egyptian tomb cheese
Image from bbc
Archaeologists have identified a substance found inside an ancient Egyptian tomb: 3,200-year-old cheese. Several years ago, a research team found a “solidified whitish mass” on a collection of jars in the tomb of Ptahmes, a high-ranking Egyptian official in the 13th century B.C.
2. Chinese bone soup
Image from ancientfoods
Chinese archaeologists have unearthed what they believe is a 2,400-year-old pot of soup, state media report. The liquid and bones were in a sealed bronze cooking vessel dug up near the ancient capital of Xian – home to the country’s famed terracotta warriors.
3. Bog butter
Image from washingtonpost
‘Bog butter’ is exactly what it sounds like: butter found in bogs, primarily in Ireland. Some samples of bog butter, typically stored in wooden containers, have been dated back over 2,000 years, and researchers have estimated the practice of burying butter originated in the first century AD.
It’s unclear why the practice started. The butter may have been buried to preserve it for longer as the temperatures in bogs were low. It is also thought that because butter was a valuable item, burying it would protect it from thieves and invaders and that many stashes of bog butter were never retrieved because they were forgotten about or lost.
4. Edward VII coronation chocolate
Image from dailymail
The coronation Day, June 26, 1902, marked Edward VII’s succession to the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria. The box of chocolates is 115 years old and contains chocolates as well as a newspaper clipping explaining that they were presented to a young schoolgirl named Martha Greig in August 1902.
5. Shipwrecked champagne
Image from nbcnew
Last summer, divers discovered a cache of incredibly old Champagne in a shipwreck off Finland’s Åland islands. Today, someone snatched up part of it. Two 1840s-vintage bottles (one from the long-gone Juglar house, the other from the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot) sold at auction for 54,000 euros (about $39,000 a bottle).
6. Salad dressing
Image from neatorama
Discovered in a shipwreck in the Aegean Sea in 2004 was a jar of salad dressing dating from 350 BCE. After the contents of the ship were recovered in 2006, tests were carried out on the jar, revealing a mix of olive oil and oregano inside. This recipe is still used today, having been passed down through generations in Greece, as adding a herb like oregano or thyme to olive oil not only adds flavour but also preserves it.
7. Antarctic fruitcake
Image from npr
Fruitcakes, made with strong spirits such as whisky, brandy and rum, can last for long periods of time. The alcohol in the cake can act as a preservative, killing bacteria, so fruit cakes can be stored for several months without spoiling.
Its long shelf life, as well as its rich ingredients, made fruitcake an ideal supply for Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic expedition in 1910-1913. In 2017 during the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s excavation of the Cape Adare hut, used by Scott, a fruitcake was found.
8. World’s oldest bottle of beer
Image from mirror
Australian brewer James Squire claims to have created the world’s oldest surviving beer, made with 220-year-old yeast derived from an intact beer bottle discovered at the bottom of a shipwreck. This old beer made new, The Wreck Preservation Ale, was officially launched in Sydney this month