Charred remains of a flatbread baked about 14,500 years ago in a stone fireplace at a site in northeastern Jordan have given researchers a delectable surprise: people began making bread, a vital staple food, millennia before they developed agriculture.
No matter how you slice it, the discovery detailed on Monday shows that hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Mediterranean achieved the cultural milestone of bread-making far earlier than previously known, more than 4,000 years before plant cultivation took root.
The flatbread, likely unleavened and somewhat resembling pita bread, was fashioned from wild cereals such as barley, einkorn or oats, as well as tubers from an aquatic papyrus relative that had been ground into flour.
It was made by a culture called the Natufians, who had begun to embrace a sedentary rather than nomadic lifestyle, and was found at a Black Desert archeological site.
“The presence of bread at a site of this age is exceptional,” said Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a University of Copenhagen postdoctoral researcher in archaeobotany and lead author of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a University of Copenhagen postdoctoral researcher in archaeobotany, and Ali Shakaiteer, a local assistant to researchers working at an archeological site in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan, collecting wheat. (Reuters)