The world’s oldest bread
For years, historians and archaeologists have believed our ancestors began baking bread only after they started farming wheat. But the discovery of a few blackened bread crumbs in Jordan suggests the reverse may be true: that early humans developed farming as a way to produce more bread. The crumbs, found in sediment samples in what was once a dwelling or ceremonial building, date back 14,400 years—about 4,000 years before the earliest evidence of agriculture. “Our work shows that bread was not a product of settled, complex societies but of a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer society,” study author Amaia Arranz Otaegui tells The Washington Post. The ancient people who built the structure, the hunter-gatherer Natufians, wouldn’t have had the pita-like bread every day; collecting enough wild grains to be ground down into flour would have been a long and arduous process. But Arranz Otaegui says if bread was “desirable or much sought after,” it may eventually have helped spur the dawn of agriculture.