This week, a team of scientists produced a delicious loaf of sourdough bread using 4,500-year-old yeast preserved from ancient Egypt.
Physicist, creator of the Xbox and self-proclaimed “bread-nerd” Seamus Blackley was the baker that made it all happen.
He teamed up with Egyptologist Serena Love and microbiologist Richard Bowman to track down a sample of ancient Egyptian yeast, extract it, breed it, bake it and, finally, eat it ― and he tweeted every step of the way.
Using samples from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard’s Peabody Museum, the team extracted dormant yeasts from ancient ceramic pots and “awoke and fed them,” according to Blackley.
His collaborator Love, who is an archeologist specializing in ancient Egypt from the University of Queensland in Australia, told Eater she spent hours trawling through various museums’ online collections and contacting people who might consider allowing them access to ancient artifacts in order to sample their yeast.
“I got ignored by lots of people; some never even bothered to respond to me. So I’m actually loving this Twitter stuff now, because all the people who blew me off — take that!” she said.
After days of careful work, Blackley shared the final product: what he described as an amazing, sweet and richly aromatic loaf of bread. The next step, he said, was for him and Love to teach themselves how to “bake like Egyptians.”
It struck a chord with Twitter’s nerdiest, racking up tens of thousands of likes and retweets, and, of course, the mummy jokes flowed freely.
Here are some of the best: