WORLD'S OLDEST CHEESE DISCOVERED _ Scientists announced the discovery of ancient cheese on Chinese mummies dating back to 1615 B.C. The mummies, found in a cemetery in northwestern China (Taklamakan Desert), were buried in large wooden boats atop a sand dune and tightly wrapped with cowhide to create a vacuum-like effect. This method of preservation, along with the dry desert air and salty soil, mostly prevented the corpses' decay. Archaeologists aren't exactly sure why the corpses were buried with lumps of cheese on their bodies, but they think the intention may have been to provide the deceased with food for the afterlife. Based on chemical analysis, the cheese appears to be lactose-free and was probably quick and convenient to make.