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Researchers have found the earliest evidence of bread at a dig site in Black Desert, northeastern Jordan.
The evidence that included 24 pieces of burnt bread-like products in stone fireplaces turned out to be around 14,000 years old. After conducting a microscopic analysis of the products, the researchers found that these bread-like pieces were produced with water and flour made from wild wheat, barley, and powdered plant roots. Additionally, the pieces displayed hints of processes like grinding and kneading.
According to the researchers, prehistoric people who lived in the area where the dig site is were hunter-gatherers. These people hunted small animals for meat and collected edible plant-based food items like nuts and fruits. The researchers believe that bread was used to wrap meat, like how bread is used in sandwiches. They also think that prehistoric people prepared bread during feasts or celebrations.
Previously, scientists theorized that agriculture began before baking. As people grew grains, they eventually used these staples for bread. However, the recent discovery suggests that baking preceded agriculture by around 4,000 years, although bread became the main part of prehistoric people’s diet only when farmers started to depend on growing grains for food. Moreover, prehistoric people might have been inclined to grow wheat and barley because these types of grain were already part of their diet.
The discovery can also shed light on how bread developed and evolved in different cultures through the years. Furthermore, researchers are hopeful that the findings can give additional insight into prehistoric diets that are still largely unknown, particularly the plant-based diet.