For the dilettante, laypeople who aren't obsessed with the science of baking, bread is pretty boring. But as the oldest bread discovered in the history of humanity attests, bread can be pretty fascinating when its unearthed from a hole in the ground after being buried for 14,000 years.
In fact, the remnants of this very old bread discovered in northeastern Jordan, predate the advent of the "Neolithic agricultural way of life," according to researchers, who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists didn't dig up whole loaves of bread, but rather charred crumbs that were used to make "flatbread-like products" millennia ago.
University of Copenhagen archaeobotanist Amaia Arranz Otaegui told CNN the crumbs were a momentous find: "So now we know that bread-like products were produced long before the development of farming," she said. In total, "Twenty-four bread-like discoveries were found in two fireplaces in a Natufian hunter-gatherer site known as Shubayqa 1," per CNN's report.
The primitive food was made, according to the study, using "the wild ancestors of domesticated cereals (e.g. wild einkorn) and club-rush tubers to produce flat bread-like products." Ancient hunter-gatherers likely made the flatbread by placing cereals beneath burning embers or on a terracotta plate on top of an open flame, researchers said.
As researchers indicate, the discovery has indicated that bread production began some 4,000 years earlier than previously thought.
"Despite being one of the most important foodstuffs consumed in the modern world, the origins of bread are still largely unknown. Here we report the earliest empirical evidence for the preparation of bread-like products by Natufian hunter-gatherers, 4,000 years before the emergence of the Neolithic agricultural way of life," the study claims.