Evolution and humans: bread making over 14,000 years ago (Evolution)

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 05:42 (2099 days ago) @ David Turell

Wild cereals had to harvested by hunter-gatherers to do this:


"At an archaeological site in northeastern Jordan, researchers have discovered the charred remains of a flatbread baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. It is the oldest direct evidence of bread found to date, predating the advent of agriculture by at least 4,000 years. The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period.


"'The presence of hundreds of charred food remains in the fireplaces from Shubayqa 1 is an exceptional find, and it has given us the chance to characterize 14,000-year-old food practices. The 24 remains analysed in this study show that wild ancestors of domesticated cereals such as barley, einkorn, and oat had been ground, sieved and kneaded prior to cooking. The remains are very similar to unleavened flatbreads identified at several Neolithic and Roman sites in Europe and Turkey. So we now know that bread-like products were produced long before the development of farming. The next step is to evaluate if the production and consumption of bread influenced the emergence of plant cultivation and domestication at all," said University of Copenhagen archaeobotanist Amaia Arranz Otaegui, who is the first author of the study.


"'Natufian hunter-gatherers are of particular interest to us because they lived through a transitional period when people became more sedentary and their diet began to change. Flint sickle blades as well as ground stone tools found at Natufian sites in the Levant have long led archaeologists to suspect that people had begun to exploit plants in a different and perhaps more effective way. But the flat bread found at Shubayqa 1 is the earliest evidence of bread making recovered so far, and it shows that baking was invented before we had plant cultivation. So this evidence confirms some of our ideas. Indeed, it may be that the early and extremely time-consuming production of bread based on wild cereals may have been one of the key driving forces behind the later agricultural revolution where wild cereals were cultivated to provide more convenient sources of food."


"'Bread involves labour intensive processing which includes dehusking, grinding of cereals and kneading and baking. That it was produced before farming methods suggests it was seen as special, and the desire to make more of this special food probably contributed to the decision to begin to cultivate cereals. All of this relies on new methodological developments that allow us to identify the remains of bread from very small charred fragments using high magnification," said Professor Dorian Fuller (UCL Institute of Archaeology)."

David: Comment: We civilized a little bit at a time.

I always hate this imagery of ancient humans as knuckle dragging idiots. I mean, the process of baking requires more than just work.

How does a person make the logical leap between crunchy hard crap on the end of grass to "If I add milk and other stuff, smoosh it around just so, and throw it into a fire for a little while I'll get something tasty."

That does not sound like the thought process of a knuckle dragging idiot. It requires a LOT of abstract thought, really. I can see them husking and soaking grains in milk or water to soften them, but how to go from that to bread? Food fight? Maybe someone was playing around, smooshed up some in their hand while their mother yelled at them to stop playing with their food so they tossed the smooshed up bit on a rock next to a fire. I mean, I can see it happening as an odd random seeming chain of events, but really, it seems to me that they were more intelligent and had more knowledge than we give them credit for. Hence the reason archaeologist are continuously 'surprised' by what early humans knew.

What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

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