14,400-Year-Old Bread Discovery Rewrites History Books

The bombshell flatbread predates human agriculture.

By Ethan L. Johns
July 17, 2018

Image: Alexis Pantos

Leave that loaf of bread out on the counter and it will be inedible in a few days. Leave it buried underground for 14,400 years and it will be… the oldest bread in the world.

In a paper published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archaeologists revealed the discovery of a burnt flatbread which is believed to predate the birth of agriculture.

The team, led by Tobias Richter of the University of Copenhagen, found the evidence of bread while excavating a 14,400-year-old site in Jordan. The site, named Shubayqa 1 and located in the Black Desert, belonged to the Natufian hunter-gatherer culture.

Using electron microscopes, researchers analyzed the bread remains and found them to contain “wild ancestors of domesticated cereals,” including barley, einkorn, and oats. These ingredients had been ground and kneaded before baking.

Previously, the oldest evidence of bread ever was found at an archaeological site dated at 9,100 years old, according to Reuters. This new finding, therefore, makes bread over 5,000 years older than scientists thought. Human agriculture is believed to have started about 10,000 years ago.

“So we now know that bread-like products were produced long before the development of farming,” said the study’s author, archaeobotanist Amaia Arranz Otaegui. “The next step is to evaluate if the production and consumption of bread influenced the emergence of plant cultivation and domestication at all.”

Next time you think about tossing your stale loaf into the trash, you could always think about burying it in the backyard. Who knows, maybe somebody will dig it up in 15,000 years.

Still hungry? Follow Genius Kitchen on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for even more fresh food news, served daily. Use #GeniusKitchen to let us know what you're sharing!

get the Food.com app.

Watch on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android, Roku, or Fire TV.

Learn More

About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns