Archaeologists often make gruesome, significant, and fascinating discoveries, but some of their finds are downright repulsive – sometimes they unearth ancient foods. These foods date back thousands of years, making them actual archaeological discoveries, and most of them sound pretty disgusting.
Archaeologists find food all the time, whether it's hiding in ancient tombs, resting on the bottom of the sea in a sunken ship, or tied around the neck of a mummy. These ancient food discoveries range from the palatable – such as preserved honey found in Egyptian pyramids – to the completely revolting – 5,000-year-old butter pulled out of a bog – to the culturally significant – 4,000-year-old preserved noodles discovered at Lajia site, also known as China's Pompeii.
Take a look through the oldest foods archaeologists have discovered, and contemplate facing these choices at a sadistic buffet. What would be the absolutely worst food to eat today?
Some of the best archaeological food discoveries come from tombs, where people were buried with provisions for the afterlife. Archaeologists working in China found a surprising food haul in one tomb, where they uncovered a bronze cooking pot. When they opened the pot, they found 2,400-year-old bone soup. Because of oxidization, the soup turned green, but it was still in liquid form, and the bones were still floating on top.
One Irish butter farmer from 3,000 years ago buried his cache of butter in a bog – and then forgot about it. The oldest example of bog butter dates back 5,000 years, and nearly 300 different chunks of bog butter have been dragged from the peat.
Many are baffled as to why farmers would throw their butter into a bog. Butter was a valuable commodity – some people even used it to pay taxes. As such, hiding butter in a bog was the ancient equivalent of hiding money in a mattress. Ireland even considers bog butter to be a national treasure.
Archaeologists found a mysterious black substance in an ancient tomb in Shaanxi Province, China, that dates back at least 2,200 years. After months of testing, they determined that they had discovered the world’s oldest beef jerky. The jerky was sealed in a bronze pot to feed the tomb’s inhabitants on their journey to the afterlife. Today, the beef has mostly carbonized, giving it a green, moss-like appearance.
A group of archaeologists uncovered 200 mummies buried in China’s Taklamakan Desert. The mummies are nearly 4,000 years old, and they are still wearing the clothes in which they were buried in upside-down boats.
The mummies were also carrying chunks of cheese tied around their necks. The dry and salty soil of the desert preserved the mummies and their ancient cheese for thousands of years.