Neolithic Bread at Catal Hoyuk

Did archaeologists find the world’s oldest bread?

Neolithic bread

Neolithic Bread from Catal Hoyuk. Courtesy Necmettin Erbakan University.

Excavations at the important site of Catal Hoyuk in south-central Turkey have uncovered what archaeologists have termed “the world’s oldest bread.” According to a press release from the Necmettin Erbakan University, the bread dates to around 8,600 years ago, during the Pottery Neolithic period (c. 6900–6400 BCE). At the time, Catal Hoyuk was one of the world’s largest proto-urban settlements, with a population of around 8,000 people.

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The small piece of bread was discovered in an oven structure within the settlement. The entire structure was covered with clay, which allowed the bread to be preserved. Analysis revealed the bread had not been baked, but had instead fermented, allowing its starches to be detected. The team also identified ground plant material from barley, wheat, and even peas. This material would have been mixed with water and flour and left near the oven. It is not known, however, if it was intended to be cooked. As the bread was quite small (about the size of a human palm), it may have originally been part of a larger dough.

According to the excavation’s director, Ali Umut Türkcan, “We have to say that the starting point of food archaeology is Anatolia. Catal Hoyuk is one of the most important stops here. Catal Hoyuk was already the center of many firsts. In the years when it was excavated, the world’s first weavings were in Catal Hoyuk. The wooden artifacts were also in Catal Hoyuk. Wall paints and paintings were added to it.”

Catal Hoyuk thrived from around 7500 to 6400 BCE and is known for the wealth of impressive artwork found within its tightly packed buildings. This art includes murals, impressive carvings, and clay figurines.

Read more in Bible History Daily:

Çatalhöyük Mural: The Earliest Representation of a Volcanic Eruption?

Remarkable Wall Paintings Discovered at Catalhoyuk

All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:

Excavating Catalhoyuk

Discovering Catalhoyuk

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