(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeological finds in the Black Desert of Jordan show that 14,400 years ago people used stone ovens to bake bread.
The researchers found the charred remains of a tortilla baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. This is the oldest direct evidence found to date for the existence of bread, predating agriculture by at least 4,000 years.
Twenty-four bread-like finds were found in two fire pits at the Natufian hunter-gatherer site known as Shubaika.
Findings in 2018 suggest that the production of bread based on wild cereals may have spurred hunter-gatherers to grow crops and thereby contribute to the agricultural revolution during the Neolithic.
Making fresh bread from wild cereals picked on the occasion was really difficult, but perhaps the innovation smelled so good that people invented agriculture.
Microscopic analysis of the finds from the campfires showed that the locals used about 95 different plants, mainly reeds, which produce edible roots, shoots and “nuts”.
Barley, oats and wheat have also been found. However, it is not clear whether these ancient inhabitants of the Levant, the Natufians, consciously cultivated and tended crops or collected edible weeds on occasion.
The 24 remains analyzed in this study show that the wild ancestors of domesticated cereals such as barley, einkorn and oats were crushed, sieved and mashed prior to cooking.
These remains are very similar to the unleavened cakes found at several Neolithic and Roman sites in Europe and Turkey. The charred remains in Jordan provide the first direct evidence that bread production preceded the development of agriculture.
In addition to bread, materials such as wild mustard seeds, the bones of some animals, and three different types of cheese have been found in the region.
For a truly ancient meal, the ideal companion for ancient bread is ancient cheese.
The oldest remnant of hard cheese is 3,200 years old and dates back to the 13th century BC. It was found in the tomb of Ptahmes, ruler of the ancient city of Memphis in Egypt.
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