bread

A new study shows humans ate bread long before they farmed grains.

Humans ate bread long before large-scale farming, a discovery in the Middle East suggests.

Archaeologists have found a bread-making site in Jordan that dates back about 14,400 years, about 4,000 years before the introduction of agriculture. Prior to the latest finding, the earliest-known bread was baked in Turkey after humans had settled down and started farming.

According to Gizmodo:

Tobias Richter, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new study, said the discovery was surprising on a number of levels.

“First, that bread predates the advent of agriculture and farming—it was always thought that it was the other way round,” Richter told Gizmodo. “Second, that the bread was of high quality, since it was made using quite fine flour. We didn’t expect to find such high-quality flour this early on in human history. Third, the hunter-gatherer bread we have does not only contain flour from wild barley, wheat and oats, but also from tubers, namely tubers from water plants (sedges). The bread was therefore more of a multi-grain-tuber bread, rather than a white loaf.”

NPR reports that the archaeological team, led by Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, an an archaeobotanist from the University of Copenhagen, who was collecting leftovers from the Natufians, a hunter-gatherer group that lived in Jordan thousands of years ago.

According to NPR:

When Arranz-Otaegui sifted through the swept-up silt, the black particles appeared to be charred food remains. “They looked like what we find in our toasters,” she says — except no one ever heard of people making bread so early in human history. “I could tell they were processed plants,” Arranz-Otaegui says, “but I didn’t really know what they were.”

So she took her burnt findings to a colleague, Lara Gonzalez Carretero at University College London Institute of Archaeology, whose specialty is identifying prehistoric food remains, bread in particular. She concluded that what Arranz-Otaegui had unearthed was a handful of truly primordial breadcrumbs.