‘People may have taken up plant cultivation to obtain flour’

Charred remains of a flatbread baked about 14,500 years ago in a stone fireplace at a site in northeastern Jordan have given researchers a delectable surprise: people began making bread, a vital staple food, millennia before they developed agriculture.

The discovery detailed on Monday shows that hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Mediterranean were making bread far earlier than previously known, more than 4,000 years before plant cultivation took root.

The flatbread was fashioned from wild cereals such as barley, einkorn or oats, and tubers from an aquatic papyrus relative, that had been ground into flour. It was made by the Natufians, who had begun to embrace a sedentary rather than nomadic lifestyle, and was found at a Black Desert archeological site.

Until now the origins of bread had been associated with early farming societies that cultivated cereals and legumes. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation,” said researcher Amaia Arranz-Otaegui

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