A stone-made semi-sunken structure from the site Shubayqa 1, in north-east Jordan, where archaeologists unearthed 254 fragments of unleavened fl
Investigations in a remote desert region of the Middle East have revealed that the earliest known bread appears to have been made for use in a ceremonial or religious context some 14,400 years ago.
It is 5000 years more ancient than the previously known oldest example of bread.
The evidence from the site Shubayqa 1, in north-east Jordan, suggests that the bread was probably consumed as part of a ceremonial or ritually important communal meal.
Some 254 fragments of unleavened flatbread were unearthed by archaeologists in the hearth of what appears to have been a ceremonial or religious building.
It is one of the oldest stone structures in the world. About eight metres in diameter, it is one of a series of little-known early stone buildings — the first-ever built — constructed between 15,500 and 14,000 years ago.
The discovery reveals that bread-making pre-dates the development of agriculture by some 3500 years.
A leading expert on prehistoric cereals, Professor Dorian Fuller, of the Institute of Archaeology, said: “This discovery demonstrates that food became something that was valued for more than just calories. It reveals that people over 14,000 years ago had begun to consume food for social, cultural, and potentially ideological reasons.”
The discovery of what is thought to be the world’s oldest bread, at the Shubayqa 1 site, has been published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.