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Historians and archaeologists have traditionally linked bread to the dawn of agriculture, when people domesticated plants such as wheat, cultivated them and ground them into flour.
But a new discovery of blackened crumbs at an ancient stone building in the Middle East indicates that people were baking bread thousands of years earlier.
Radiocarbon - Dates - Plants - Fireplaces - Food
Based on the radiocarbon dates of charred plants in nearby fireplaces, the food scraps are about 14,400 years old.
That's about 4,000 years before agriculture emerged, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Work - Bread - Product - Societies - Hunter-gatherer
"Our work shows that bread was not a product of settled, complex societies but a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer society," said study author Amaia Arranz Otaegui, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen.
Bread is an important food. Just look at a few of its many associations. We attach the word "bread" to the words "board," "basket," "crumb" and "winner."
Bread - English - Speakers - Word - Lord
Bread gave English speakers the word "lord," from the Old English word "hlafweard," which can be translated to "loaf-ward" (or, if you like, "keeper of the bread").
Despite its few ingredients - flour, water and dry heat - bread is very nutritious. The finer the plant matter, the easier it is to digest and absorb nutrients, said Dolores Piperno, a Smithsonian Institution archaeobotanist who was not affiliated with this research.
Ground - Foods - Bread - Villains - Advice
Some ground and baked foods such as bread have become carbohydrate villains in modern diet advice books, including "paleo" diets that claim to mimic what our ancestors ate. But hunter-gatherers would have welcomed bread's ability to boost blood sugar.
The people who built the ancient structure, members of what's called the Natufian culture, struggled in a "hostile environment to gain more energy from their food," said Ehud Weiss, an archaeobotanist at Bar-Ilan University in Israel who was not involved with the study.
Archaeologists - Bread
Archaeologists found the bread remains in...
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