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Thread: Natufian bread cultivated by wild cereals may have led to farming

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    2 members found this post helpful.

    Natufian bread cultivated by wild cereals may have led to farming



    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.

    A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen, University College London and University of Cambridge have analysed charred food remains from a 14,400-year-old Natufian hunter-gatherer site—a site known as Shubayqa 1 located in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan. The results, which are published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide the earliest empirical evidence for the production of bread:

    "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.

    University of Copenhagen archaeologist Tobias Richter, who led the excavations at Shubayqa 1 in Jordan, explained:

    "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."

    Charred remains under the microscope

    The charred food remains were analysed with electronic microscopy at a University College London lab by Ph.D. candidate Lara Gonzalez Carratero (UCL Institute of Archaeology), who is an expert on prehistoric bread:

    "The identification of 'bread' or other cereal-based products in archaeology is not straightforward. There has been a tendency to simplify classification without really testing it against an identification criteria. We have established a new set of criteria to identify flat bread, dough and porridge like products in the archaeological record. Using Scanning Electron Microscopy we identified the microstructures and particles of each charred food remain," said Gonzalez Carratero.

    "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).

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-07-archae...years.html#jCp

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    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.

    A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen, University College London and University of Cambridge have analysed charred food remains from a 14,400-year-old Natufian hunter-gatherer site—a site known as Shubayqa 1 located in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan. The results, which are published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide the earliest empirical evidence for the production of bread:

    "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.

    University of Copenhagen archaeologist Tobias Richter, who led the excavations at Shubayqa 1 in Jordan, explained:

    "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."

    Charred remains under the microscope

    The charred food remains were analysed with electronic microscopy at a University College London lab by Ph.D. candidate Lara Gonzalez Carratero (UCL Institute of Archaeology), who is an expert on prehistoric bread:

    "The identification of 'bread' or other cereal-based products in archaeology is not straightforward. There has been a tendency to simplify classification without really testing it against an identification criteria. We have established a new set of criteria to identify flat bread, dough and porridge like products in the archaeological record. Using Scanning Electron Microscopy we identified the microstructures and particles of each charred food remain," said Gonzalez Carratero.

    "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).

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-07-archae...years.html#jCp
    Well, bless the Natufians, the inventors of bread!

    The way to not only a man's heart, but to cultivation and domestication of grain is through the stomach. :)

    We still make flatbreads by simply mixing flour, salt, and water. Until seventy years ago, we still used sickles to cut the grain, the wind and mesh to separate out the chaff, and stone grinding tools. So, 14,000 years of the same process.

    This is a great video documentary on not only how the Natufians made bread, but the creation of agricultural societies.



    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, bless the Natufians, the inventors of bread!

    The way to not only a man's heart, but to cultivation and domestication of grain is through the stomach. :)

    We still make flatbreads by simply mixing flour, salt, and water. Until seventy years ago, we still used sickles to cut the grain, the wind and mesh to separate out the chaff, and stone grinding tools. So, 14,000 years of the same process.

    This is a great video documentary on not only how the Natufians made bread, but the creation of agricultural societies.

    Amen to that!

    So many wonderful things are made with bread, it even facilitated a revolution.

    Thanks sharing for the video!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Well, bless the Natufians, the inventors of bread!
    The way to not only a man's heart, but to cultivation and domestication of grain is through the stomach. :)
    We still make flatbreads by simply mixing flour, salt, and water. Until seventy years ago, we still used sickles to cut the grain, the wind and mesh to separate out the chaff, and stone grinding tools. So, 14,000 years of the same process.
    This is a great video documentary on not only how the Natufians made bread, but the creation of agricultural societies.
    around 16:00 they mention the site of Zab near lake Galilee and other places in the Jordan Valley where cultivation would have begun

    do you know any documentation on that ?

    afaik the only evidenced Natufian fixed settlement during which survived the youngest dryas is Mureybet, Upper Euphrates

    and the bow and arrow was known long before, ca 20 ka both in the Kebaran in the Levant and the Zarzian in the Zagros Mts.

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    Cool, had no idea they had archery ^
    mmmmmmmmm dooouuughhhnuuuutz

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    around 16:00 they mention the site of Zab near lake Galilee and other places in the Jordan Valley where cultivation would have begun

    do you know any documentation on that ?

    afaik the only evidenced Natufian fixed settlement during which survived the youngest dryas is Mureybet, Upper Euphrates

    and the bow and arrow was known long before, ca 20 ka both in the Kebaran in the Levant and the Zarzian in the Zagros Mts.
    Well, I clearly wasn't paying close enough attention. You're right about the bow and arrow. I don't know about the site at Zab. I'm going to have to investigate.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I don't know whether this is precisely the same site, but it shows up in my search for Zab...

    See: Leore Grossman et al:
    "Nahal Ein Gev II, a Late Natufian Community at the Sea of Galilee"
    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/art...l.pone.0146647

    "Ambiguities concerning Late Natufian cultural dynamics and their role in the transition to agriculture have focused on questions of site permanence, the impact of climatic change wrought by the Younger Dryas (hereafter YD) event, the pace of the transition and the role of local populations in this change. Research of these questions has focused on the Mediterranean zone, with less attention given to the Late Natufian of the Jordan Valley. Nevertheless, studies increasingly suggest that the first agricultural communities in the southern Levant emerged in the Jordan Rift Valley during the earliest Neolithic phase, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (hereafter PPNA; [59]). Understanding cultural developments in the Jordan Valley is of significance for reconstructing agricultural origins especially given that recent chronological refinements reveal a possible brief period of overlap between the Natufian and PPNA [10]; the Natufian culture is dated to 11,300 cal. BP, while the earliest PPNA sites date to ca. 11,700 cal BP. Characterizing this important period of potential overlap in the Jordan Valley is crucial for understanding the socioeconomic processes that marked the shift from Palaeolithic foragers to Neolithic agricultural communities."

    It was covered in this article.

    "Scholars had thought climate stress in the late Natufian period forced humans in the Levant to revert to nomadism. Evidently, not so."



    "
    A huge prehistoric village dating back 12,000 years discovered by the Sea of Galilee has overturned the theory that because of subsistence stress, people in the Levant had largely reverted to a nomadic existence of hunting and gathering. Many did, but evidently not all.
    The site found by the Ein Gev stream in the Jordan Valley does not conform to current perceptions of the Late Natufians as a largely mobile population coping with reduced resources caused by climate stress, says a Hebrew University archaeological team headed by Leore Grosman in their paper, published in Plos ONE, "A Late Natufian Community by the Sea of Galilee"."

    At 1,200 square meters in area, the village is big. It also shows signs of continuous fixed settlement throughout the period by a relatively large community, at least 100 people. " We now postulate that settlement before the Neolithic was a gradual process," Grosman told Haaretz.

    An intriguing find in the village was works of art that were typical in style to the early Natufian – and also to the later Neolithic styles, she says. The site "encapsulates cultural characteristics typical of both Natufian and Pre Pottery Neolithic traditions and thus bridges the crossroads between Late Paleolithic foragers and Neolithic farmers," write the archaeologists.

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    thank you Angela,
    I don't know whether they are the same sites, but it seems to corroborate the story in the video.
    I think the younger dryas had an impact on the area, at least the Upper Eurphrates where there were no more gazelles in Abu Hurayra which was abandoned whereas gazelles where hunted in Mureybet which florished.



    I also wonder how Lake Lisan would have evolved during that period


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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Some more context for the find:

    https://www.archaeology.org/news/679...gatherer-bread

    "COPENHAGEN, DENMARK—The Guardianreports that archaeologist Amaia Arranz-Otaegui of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues have found charred crumbs of bread baked 14,000 years ago by Natufian hunter-gatherers living in northeast Jordan. It had been previously believed that bread was first produced by early farmers. Among the more than 600 charred, bread-like lumps found in a fireplace, the excavation uncovered small tubers from a wetland plant, legumes, wild wheat and barley, and plants belonging to the cabbage family. Analysis of some of the lumps suggest they were made from barley, einkorn wheat or oats, and sometimes other plants. The flour used to make them may have even be sieved. The dough is thought to have been baked in the fire’s ashes, or on a hot stone, to produce an unleavened flat bread. Team member Tobias Richter said such a bread would have been very labor intensive to produce, and so was probably not a staple in the Natufian diet. This bread may have been consumed as part of a large feast or ritual event—since the fireplace also contained the bones of gazelles, water birds, and hares—or may have been prepared as provisions for a journey."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Some more context for the find:

    https://www.archaeology.org/news/679...gatherer-bread

    "COPENHAGEN, DENMARK—The Guardianreports that archaeologist Amaia Arranz-Otaegui of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues have found charred crumbs of bread baked 14,000 years ago by Natufian hunter-gatherers living in northeast Jordan. It had been previously believed that bread was first produced by early farmers. Among the more than 600 charred, bread-like lumps found in a fireplace, the excavation uncovered small tubers from a wetland plant, legumes, wild wheat and barley, and plants belonging to the cabbage family. Analysis of some of the lumps suggest they were made from barley, einkorn wheat or oats, and sometimes other plants. The flour used to make them may have even be sieved. The dough is thought to have been baked in the fire’s ashes, or on a hot stone, to produce an unleavened flat bread. Team member Tobias Richter said such a bread would have been very labor intensive to produce, and so was probably not a staple in the Natufian diet. This bread may have been consumed as part of a large feast or ritual event—since the fireplace also contained the bones of gazelles, water birds, and hares—or may have been prepared as provisions for a journey."
    Very interesting, to consider the bread may have had a spiritual aspect to it. As the article said, it was very labor intensive, so I think it is likely they used it for special occasions.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    Very interesting, to consider the bread may have had a spiritual aspect to it. As the article said, it was very labor intensive, so I think it is likely they used it for special occasions.
    The first grains to reach the far eastern steppe also had a ritual significance. Michael Frachetti has done a lot of work in this area. This is a Dienekes post which outlines the discoveries and their significance.

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/05...ner-asian.html

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