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Archaeologists find the world's oldest bread 14400 years old helping to uncover its origins

Published: 16 JULY 2018 09:23AM

Words by Nastasha Romanenko | News Editor

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Who invented bread?


It might surprise you to know that we really don’t have much of an idea of who invented bread or where it even came from. Although it's probably one of the most abundant foods in many parts of the world, its origins are a mystery.

Have we discovered who invented bread?


Not quite, but we have discovered the world's oldest known evidence of bread which could help us to understand our history with food, and development in terms of how we came to be.

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Shubayqa 1 is a hunter-gatherer site dated to the early and late Natufian (from 14.6 to 11.6 ka cal BP) located in northeast Jordan, in an area known as the Black Desert. This is where archaeologists have discovered the earliest known evidence for the existence of bread.

The site was found and briefly dug by Allison Bets in the 1990s, and archaeologists from the University of Copenhagen, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, have conducted four excavation seasons at the site from 2012 to 2015.

“The food remains were found in two in situ fireplaces, suggesting that the inhabitants of Shubayqa 1 produced bread-like products shortly before they abandoned the site."


Says Amaia Arranz-Otaegu, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

A paper was published in PNSA detailing the find.

Arranz-Otaegu goes on to say “Its production could therefore be interpreted as a means of stocking up a rather light, nutritional, and easily transportable foodstuff that can additionally be stored dried for several months.”

The site of Shubayqa 1 showing Structure 1 and one of the fireplaces (the oldest one) where the bread-like remains were discovered.

“Previous studies have associated the production of bread with fully fledged agricultural groups of the Neolithic period. However, the discovery of charred food remains at Shubayqa 1 provides direct empirical data for the production of bread-like foodstuffs 4,000 y before agriculture emerged in southwest Asia”

This shows that bread making appeared at least 4000 years prior to when we first thought hunter gatherers started to create this versatile food.

This find will help Archaeologists build up a more detailed picture of our past, in terms of dietary habits, and maybe even customs.

Media Resource: doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1801071115

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