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Blackened mummy cake found intact 79 years after WWII air strike

Fires from incendiary bombs burned the cake to a crisp..

A 79-year-old nutcake lies on a table in the workshop of the Department of Archaeology for the Hanseatic City of Lübeck Historic Monuments Protection Authority. (Image credit: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Live News)

Archaeologists in Germany are drooling over a hazelnut and almond cake that was baked 79 years ago and recently blackened in a cellar in the German town of Lübeck, removed as a mummy-like relic.

Representatives of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck said in a statement that although the charred delicacy has not been edible for a very, very long time, it is still recognizable as a cake. The general shape of the cake, the nut fillings, the details in the sugar cream decorations and even the waxed paper packaging, II.

Archaeologists have previously discovered the burnt remains of dishes a long time ago, but according to the description, they rarely find such whole and well-preserved food as this cake. Representatives of Lübeck said that this gives an insight into a dark moment in the history of Germany and illuminates the fragility of life during the war.

Marching March 28, 1942 night (and until the early morning of March 29), the British Royal Air Force bombed Lübeck, a historic city and a non-military target, in retaliation for the Nazi attack on Coventry, England in 1940. Dirk Rieger, head of the Archaeological Department of the Historical Monuments Protection Authority of the Hanseatic City Lübeck, said. Rieger,  the nut-filled cake had recently been opened when the bombs landed and all the stories of the building collapsed into the cellar, he told  Somehow the cake survived being crushed, and the intense heat of the flames quickly roasted and charred the toffee in the middle of the wreckage.

Founded in 1143, Lübeck is one of the best preserved medieval urban areas in northern Europe according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which added Lübeck to its List of World Heritage Protected Areas in 1987. from 1230, UNESCO says that until 1535, Lübeck, a port city on the Baltic Sea, served as the capital of an international organization of merchants known as the Hanseatic League, and much of the city’s outstanding medieval architecture remains intact to this day.

Artifacts and other remains found under buildings in the sediments of Lübeck are also extremely well preserved, Rieger said.

“The bottom soil is made of clay, so it’s great to preserve organic material,” he explained. “you’re digging like 7 meters [23 feet] and you’re in the 1100s. We have every feature of urban and commercial activity for eight or nine centuries, and this is absolutely unique in the way it is protected.”

To date, more than 4 million objects have been recovered from excavations around Lübeck, Rieger said – “everything from small children’s shoes to all medieval ships.”

Restorer Sylvia Morgenstern cleans the preserved nutcake with a brush and vacuum cleaner. (Image credit: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Live News)

Sunday April, workers found the cake in the Old Town of Lübeck, “close to the city hall and the main market area,” during infrastructure work, Rieger said. In the ruined parts of the city that the British bombed, “the town left the cellars in the ground and built new houses on them,” he said. Due to the important historical status of Lübeck, archaeologists supervise all construction work in the city. According to the statement, the specialists were already there when the workers opened the cellar and discovered the blackened cake, plates, knives, spoons and vinyl records containing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”.

Scientists brought the cake to the city’s restoration laboratory, where conservators carefully cleaned it with precision shovels, brushes and vacuum cleaners and then collected samples to determine the pecan filling, Rieger said. However, work on preserving the rare carbonized toffee has only just begun. The bombs dropped by the British Royal Air Force on Lübeck contained flammable chemicals such as phosphorus, and archaeologists need to make sure that there are no traces on the cake that such materials can react with when exposed to chemicals used to preserve valuable artifacts. .

“This cake is like a window to 80 years ago,” Rieger said, and the view is grim. When the cake is finally ready for public display and people can look out of this window, “we hope they will see not only the devastation of the war, but also the joy that people have,” he added. “Because it was a family celebration, they listened to music, they wanted to have a nice cup of tea, they wanted to eat this cake. This is a very intimate situation, which the war immediately destroyed.”

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