Ancient bread predates agriculture by 4,000 years

Scientists at an archaeological site in northeastern Jordan have found the charred remains of an ancient flatbread they believe was baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. The team says that this is the oldest direct evidence of bread found to date. This bread is so old that it predates the advent of agriculture by at least 4,000 years.

The team says that their findings suggest that these hunter-gatherers were encouraged to cultivate wild cereals due to their bread making and that this contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period. The 14,400-year-old bread remains were found at a Natufian hunter-gather site known as Shubayqa 1.

The site is located in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan. This discovery is the earliest empirical evidence for the production of bread. The hunter-gatherers of this era are of great interest to scientists because they lived in a transitional period where people became less nomadic and more sedentary and their diet began to change.

Scientists have long believed that ancient humans at this site had begun to exploit plants in different and more effective ways due to the discovery of flint sickle blades and ground stone tools found at the site. The discovery of the bread shows that baking was invented before plant cultivation. The charred food remains were identified as bread after being analyzed with electronic microscopy at the University College of London lab.

That identification used a new set of criteria to identify flat bread, dough, and porridge-like products in the archaeological record. Scientists were able to determine that microstructures and particles of each charred food remain.

SOURCE: Eurekalert