Who invented bread?
Numerous archaeologists, anthropologists and historians have investigated the origins of bread. In recent years, the team of researchers from the universities of Copenhagen, London and Cambridge have been working on the findings of the Natufi era found during excavations at Shubayqa, an archaeological site in north-east Jordan discovered in the 1990s. Excavations have uncovered the traces of the communities of Natufi culture, who built small villages used as base camps where the inhabitants returned periodically. The remains of a hearth provide the first evidence that bread was made fourteen thousand years ago, and four millennia before agriculture began.
The results, recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, show that at least 24 of the 642 food fragments found are believed to be breadcrumbs. The bread invented by the people of Shubayqa had to be flat, a little burned, similar to a primitive Middle Eastern Pita, and very protein-rich. Our ancestors did not yet know the principles of leavening, but their recipe was by no means a foregone conclusion.
Cereals (barley and wild wheat seeds, ancestors of domesticated wheat) were broken, shelled, crushed and sieved. This flour was then mixed with water to form a dough to be cooked on embers or hot stones. Such complexity makes us think of the need to "design" foods that were more nutritious and easier to preserve than those available in nature.