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On view at the Museum: The Food Sector

Egyptian cake

Antiquity, Africa

This Egyptian cake dates back to the reign of Pepi II (2251-2157 BCE) and is a perfect example of the age-old practice of using vacuum packing to preserve food. This cake comprises two wheat flatbreads filled with honey and milk cooked in two copper moulds that fit together perfectly. As the cake cooled, air bubbles escaped thus creating a vacuum in the mould. This ensured that the cake stuck to the metal and allowed it to be preserved to this day.

Well protected in its copper mould, this cake was a perfect offering to accompany and feed the dead during their journey to the after-life. Bread is the symbol of renewed life and thus played an important role in funeral rites in Egypt at that time. This explains why this cake was discovered in 1913 in Meir in the tomb of Pepi’Onkh an important member of the governing family.


Cooking, eating, purchasing, digesting, 2003. Vevey: Alimentarium, p. 92.


  • Type: Food
  • Place of origin: Egypt
  • Materials and techniques: Bronze Honey Milk Wheat
  • Date: 2251-2157 BCE
  • Dimensions: Ø 10 cm
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