In June, a turf-cutter in County Meath, Ireland stumbled upon a 2,000-year-old, 22-pound orb of butter in a bog. And though the swamp-covered hunk of dairy was ultimately deemed edible and seemed well-preserved, not all buried butters age so well underwater.
This week, divers exploring a shipwreck dating back to 1676 believe they found a historic chunk of extremely pungent, horrifically stinky, cheese.
“We’re pretty sure it’s some kind of dairy product, butter or cheese,” Lars Einarsson, a representative from the Kalmar county museum, who is in charge of the excavation of the "Kronan," told the Guardian, “It’s like a mixture of yeast and Roquefort, a sort of really ripe, unpasteurised cheese."
The "malodorous" dairy product was discovered underwater in a tin, but upon being brought up for air some 340 years after it was packed, the change in pressure caused some of the ancient snack to leak out.
“That’s when the smell hit us,” Einarsson explained, “I certainly don’t recommend tasting it. It’s a mass of bacteria.”
The cheese has since been sent to a lab to be studied. And while Einarsson says he enjoys cheeses “whose character lives on in their smell,” he admitted that the putrid discovery is “probably not for everyone.”
The Kronan—a 126-gun, 174-foot warship—was one of the largest vessels of its time, and exploded off the island of Öland in the Baltic Sea on June 1, 1676. Of the 800 crew members onboard the ship that day, only 42 survived. While the stinky, Roquefort-style cheese was the only foodstuff found during a two-week exploration of the ship, 14 gold coins, a diamond ring, and a "significant quantity" of 17th century pharmaceuticals have been recovered as well.
The first exploration of the Kronan in the 1980s resulted in the discovery of 30,000 artifacts, including nearly 900 pounds of human bones, and dozens of bronze cannons, coins, medical items, and bottles—presumably filled with beer or wine to pair with that high-quality fromage.