The Oldest Foods Ever Discovered By Archaeologists, Ranked By How Terrible They Would Be To Eat

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Vote up the grossest rediscovered foods.

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? 

  • 1
    5,637 VOTES

    2,400-Year-Old Soup, Green From Oxidation

    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.

    5,637 votes
  • 2
    3,688 VOTES

    2,000-Year-Old Beef Jerky

    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.

    3,688 votes
  • 3
    4,587 VOTES

    Bog Butter

    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.

    4,587 votes
  • 4
    3,660 VOTES

    1,700-Year-Old Bottle Of Roman Tomb Wine

    The oldest unopened bottle of wine is almost 1,700 years old and comes from a Roman tomb near Speyer, Germany. The bottle was discovered during the excavation of a Roman nobleman’s tomb that dates between 325 and 359 CE. Following its discovery, the unopened bottle was placed in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer.

    The ancient wine bottle survived the fall of Rome, the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, and several major wars, all while remaining intact. A combination of olive oil poured in the bottle and a thick wax seal preserved the contents. As for the wine’s taste, wine professor Monika Christmann warns, “it would not bring joy to the palate.”

    3,660 votes
  • 5
    3,648 VOTES

    Ancient Chinese Mummy Cheese

    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.

    3,648 votes
  • 6
    1,459 VOTES

    140-Year-Old Toxic Victorian Beer

    In February 2020, a cache of 600 beer bottles was discovered below the staircase of what was once a Victorian brewery in Leeds, England. The bottles were found neatly stacked in the ancient remains of the Scarborough Castle Inn, which was part of Tetley's Brewery (established in 1822). According to Archaeological Services WYAS, the group responsible for the find, many of the bottles still contained liquid and were sent to a lab for analysis.

    At first, the bottles' contents were thought to be ginger beer, but the liquid was later confirmed to not only be alcoholic (at 3% alcohol by volume) but also disturbingly toxic. The beer contained a high volume of lead, at 0.13 mg/l, which is well above the safe level of 0.01 mg/l recommended by the World Health Organization. On its Facebook page, Archaelogical Services WYAS notes that the high level of lead may be due to contamination from water being transported through lead pipes. 

    David Williams, senior project manager at Archaeological Services WYAS, told The Drinks Business that the bottles probably date to the late 19th century, “perhaps the 1880s.”

    1,459 votes