Burnt Remains of Bread Baked 14,400 Years Ago Found in Jordan

Modesto Morganelli
Luglio 17, 2018

The dig, located in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan, is being carried out by a team from three universities, the University of Copenhagen, University College London and University of Cambridge.

Today in news that probably changes our perception of human history, archaeologists in Jordan have discovered evidence of a "bread-like" artifact, no doubt whipped up by a neolithic celebrity chef, 14,000 years ago, or 4,000 years or so before the advent of agriculture. Though the bread's exact grain remains unknown, its cellular structure resembles cereal grain species such as wild einkorn, rye, or millet, and it was likely an unleavened, flatbread.

"The presence of hundreds of charred food remains in the fireplaces from Shubayqa 1" - the location of the discovery - "is an exceptional find, and it has given us the chance to characterize 14,000-year-old food practices", said University of Copenhagen archaeobotanist Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, the lead author of the study.

"We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture", she added.

It's hard to determine why early humans were making bread during this time, but the scientists note that it could have been a way to stock up on light, nutritional, and transportable food. The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period.

Previously, the oldest known sample of bread had been found at 9,100-year-old site in Turkey.

"Bread involves labour intensive processing which includes dehusking, grinding of cereals and kneading and baking", said Professor Dorian Fuller, of the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

Co-author Tobias Richter emphasized the significance of bread to the development of human nutrition. "Bread provides us with an important source of carbohydrates and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron and magnesium, as well as fibre", Richter said.

Abundant evidence from the site indicated the Natufians had a meat- and plant-based diet.

Arranz-Otaegui said the researchers have begun the process of trying to reproduce the bread, and succeeded in making flour from the type of tubers used in the prehistoric recipe. "But it is a bit sweet as well".

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