(CN) – Charred remains of food found in a cave indicates hunter-gatherers knew how to bake bread 14,400 years ago – thousands of years before the advent of agriculture – according to a new study published Monday.
Researchers who excavated a cave in the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan found hundreds of pieces of charred food and flat bread in fireplaces, which would place the findings in the Old Stone Age.
The findings presented researchers a rare glimpse into the food practices of hunter-gatherers nearly 4,000 before the emergence of the agricultural revolution, according to University of Copenhagen archaeobotanist and study author Amaia Arranz Otaegui.
Otaegui said researchers analyzed 24 pieces of food and found ancestors of wild cereals similar to barley, einkorn wheat and oat were ground, sieved and kneaded before being cooked at the Shubayqa 1 site in Jordan.
“The remains are very similar to unleavened flatbreads identified at several Neolithic and Roman sites in Europe and Turkey,” said Otaegui. “So, we now know that bread-like products were produced long before the development of farming.”
Researchers say the flatbread of Shubayqa 1 is the earliest evidence of breadmaking found so far and suggests all the work that went into gathering and preparing the ingredients by the hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago – before farming practices made those wild cereals readily available – illustrated bread was special.
The results of the study will be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers include staff from the University of Copenhagen, University College London and University of Cambridge.
Next, researchers will explore if making and eating bread spurred the emergence of plant cultivation, domestication and eventually farming practices.