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Archaeology & History

Cheese discovered in 340-year-old shipwreck

By T.K. Randall
July 29, 2016 · Comment icon 14 comments

The ship and its cargo were well preserved. Image Credit: Cornelis Verbeeck
A container of foul-smelling cheese has been recovered from the site of a sunken 17th-century gunship.
The centuries-old dairy produce was one of several items of cargo being carried by the Kronan - the largest ship of its time - when it sank beneath the Baltic Sea back in 1676.

When marine archaeologists opened the container they knew straight away what was inside.

"When it was opened the first time, it was really overwhelming, in a positive way," said Lars Einarsson who described the smell as being like a mix of yeast and Roquefort.
"It was smelling 'live,' as opposed to dead organic material, which doesn't smell very nice."

It is believed that the low salinity of the Baltic Sea, combined with the fact that the ship had sank in clay, would have helped to preserve the cheese over the centuries.

"I don't know if anyone is going to taste it," said Einarsson. "We are quite optimistic about getting an analysis of the chemical makeup of the product though."

Source: | Comments (14)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Likely Guy 8 years ago
It's the 340 year old rule, ..."it's still good!"
Comment icon #6 Posted by Leto_loves_melange 8 years ago
...penicillin is made from mould so maybe it still is good. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by rashore 8 years ago
Cheese mod and bread mold are a wee bit different.  But I doubt I'd sample a 300+ year old sample of either one, ew.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Leto_loves_melange 8 years ago
...I'll take your word on it. Either way i wouldn't be game enough to try it either.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Gingitsune 8 years ago
I would consider to eat it only after someone else tried first and if there really, really, nothing else to eat...
Comment icon #10 Posted by simplybill 8 years ago
I remember reading somewhere that the ancient Swedes were the first to make cheese from cockroach milk.
Comment icon #11 Posted by phantulum 8 years ago
I would have tried it on the spot. The bacteria that makes cheese we use in veggies. I had a batch of peppers on the counter without any other preservation other than lacto fermentation and they were still good after 2 years.
Comment icon #12 Posted by hetrodoxly 8 years ago
I had some 3 year old mature cheddar a few weeks back and had to eat it in 3 days of opening, that's what you call precision timing.
Comment icon #13 Posted by jethrofloyd 8 years ago
340 year-old cheese and a bottle of cockroaches milk! A perfect Saturday dinner menu.  
Comment icon #14 Posted by bawdo 8 years ago

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