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A Man Found A 2,000-Year-Old Chuck Of Butter And It's Still Ok To Eat

It weighs roughly 22 pounds and "smells like strong cheese."

Posted on June 15, 2016, at 1:20 p.m. ET

A man in Ireland unearthed an ancient chunk of butter while working in a bog near his home in Drakerath, and it is still edible, an archaeologist said.

Cavan County Museum / Via cavanmuseum.ie

The well-preserved dairy product, which is estimated to be about 2,000 years old, was unearthed by Jack Conway while he worked at Emlagh bog last week.

Conway contacted the Cavan County Museum, which spread the news about the discovery in an announcement on Friday.

Cavan County Museum / Via cavanmuseum.ie

Butter was considered a luxury food in early medieval Ireland, said the museum. It was so valuable that it was used to pay taxes and rents.

It also had mystical value to the ancient Irish. It was buried deep in the ground as an offering to spirits and gods to keep people and their property safe, said the museum.

Andy Halpin, an assistant keeper with the National Museum of Ireland, told the Irish Times the discovery is significant because it was found in a "no-man's-land" where 11 townlands and three ancient baronies met.

Cavan County Museum / Via cavanmuseum.ie

"These bogs in those times were inaccessible, mysterious places," he said.

Bogs also have certain properties — low temperature, low oxygen, and a highly acidic environment — that can effectively preserve the butter, said the Cavan County Museum.

But don't grab a butter knife just yet. While it still may be edible, the museum doesn't recommend actually eating it.

@cavanmuseum / Via Twitter: @cavanmuseum

The butter, which the Irish Times describes as "creamy white dairy product" that "smells like a strong cheese," is slightly more crumbly than fresh butter.

"Theoretically the stuff is still edible," said Halpin. "But we wouldn't say it's advisable."

The butter has been handed over to the conservation department at the National Museum of Ireland for research and analysis.

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