The burned remains of bread made about 14,500 years ago in northeastern Jordan have given scientists a surprise: humans started making bread long before they developed agriculture.
The bread was found in a stone fireplace at an ancient site in Jordan’s Black Desert.
It is the oldest bread ever found.
Researchers said this week that the discovery shows that hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Mediterranean learned to make bread more than 4,000 years before farming began. That is much earlier than scientists had thought.
The bread was made from wild cereals like barley and oats, as well as tubers. It was made by a group of people called the Natufians. At the time, they had started to change from a nomadic way of life to one in which they stayed in one place.
Amaia Arranz-Otaegui was a lead writer and researcher of the study. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. She called the bread discovery “exceptional.”
Arranz-Otaegui said scientists must now consider whether “there was a relationship between bread production” and the beginning of agriculture. She added that the desire for bread may have led nomadic people to start growing food and staying in one area.
She also said the researchers have begun the process of trying to reproduce the prehistoric bread.
The bread might not have been very tasty, Arranz-Otaegui said. She described the taste of the tubers used for the flour as “quite gritty and salty. But it is a bit sweet as well.”
The next-oldest bread ever discovered was found in Turkey. It was over 9,000 years old.
I’m Susan Shand.