Sun, Jul 22, 2018 - Page 9 News List

World’s oldest bread found at prehistoric site in Jordan
世界最古老麵包 約旦史前遺址驚喜出爐

Researchers stand beside a fireplace stone structure where the world’s oldest bread was found, at the Black Desert, Jordan.
研究人員站在約旦黑沙漠的一個石造火爐結構旁,該處發現世界最古老的麵包。

Photo: EPA
照片:歐新社

Charred remains of a flatbread baked about 14,500 years ago in a stone fireplace at a site in northeastern Jordan have given researchers a delectable surprise: people began making bread, a vital staple food, millennia before they developed agriculture.

No matter how you slice it, the discovery detailed on Monday shows that hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Mediterranean achieved the cultural milestone of bread-making far earlier than previously known, more than 4,000 years before plant cultivation took root.

The flatbread, likely unleavened and somewhat resembling pita bread, was fashioned from wild cereals such as barley, einkorn or oats, as well as tubers from an aquatic papyrus relative, that had been ground into flour. It was made by a culture called the Natufians, who had begun to embrace a sedentary rather than nomadic lifestyle, and was found at a Black Desert archaeological site.

“The presence of bread at a site of this age is exceptional,” said Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a University of Copenhagen postdoctoral researcher in archaeobotany and lead author of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Arranz-Otaegui said until now the origins of bread had been associated with early farming societies that cultivated cereals and legumes.

The previous oldest evidence of bread came from a 9,100-year-old site in Turkey. “We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture,” Arranz-Otaegui said. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation and farming, if it became a desirable or much-sought-after food.”

University of Copenhagen archaeologist and study co-author Tobias Richter pointed to the nutritional implications of adding bread to the diet. “Bread provides us with an important source of carbohydrates and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron and magnesium, as well as fiber,” Richter said.

Abundant evidence from the site indicated the Natufians had a meat and plant-based diet. The round floor fireplaces, made from flat basalt stones and measuring about 1m in diameter, were located in the middle of huts. Arranz-Otaegui said the researchers have begun the process of trying to reproduce the bread, and succeeded in making flour from the type of tubers used in the prehistoric recipe. But it might have been an acquired taste.

“The taste of the tubers,” Arranz-Otaegui said, “is quite gritty and salty. But it is a bit sweet as well.”

(Reuters)

大約一萬四千五百年前烘培的一塊大餅,焦黑的殘餘在約旦東北方一個考古遺址的石造火爐中出土,為研究人員帶來「美味的」驚喜:原來人類早在發展農業的數千年前,就開始製作麵包這類重要主食。

無論你如何「切」入,這份詳述於週一的發現都顯示,地中海東部地區的採獵者早在耕種植物紮根的四千多年前,就已開始製作麵包,比先前所知更早達成這項文明里程碑。

可能未經發酵、有點像披塔餅(口袋麵包)的這塊大餅,是用諸如大麥、單粒小麥或燕麥等野生穀物,以及水生莎草某種親緣植物的塊莖等,磨成麵粉後製成。這塊大餅在黑沙漠的考古遺址被發現,來自稱作納圖芬的古文化,納圖芬人當時開始以定居取代游牧的生活方式。

哥本哈根大學的考古植物學博士後研究人員阿美亞‧阿朗-歐達耶吉表示:「在屬於這個時期的遺址出現麵包,真的是非比尋常。」阿朗-歐達耶吉是這篇於《美國國家科學院院刊》發表研究的主要作者。他指出,到目前為止,麵包的起源一直被認為是和耕種穀物與豆類的早期農耕社會相關。

先前最早的麵包存在證據來自土耳其一處九千一百年歷史的遺址。阿朗-歐達耶吉表示:「我們現在必須評估麵包製作和農業起源是否有關。」他說:「如果麵包後來成為有吸引力且炙手可熱的食物,那它就可能為人類帶來誘因,讓他們開始從事作物種植與農耕。」

哥本哈根大學的考古學家托比亞斯‧李希特是該研究的共同作者,他指出麵包加入飲食習慣後在營養價值上帶來的意義。李希特表示:「麵包是提供我們碳水化合物與許多營養素的重要來源,這些營養素包括維生素B、鐵質、鎂,以及纖維質等。」

該遺址出土的豐富證據顯示納圖芬人的飲食習慣以肉和植物為主。這幾個圓形的石板火爐是以扁平的玄武岩建造,直徑約一公尺,位於多間茅草小屋的中間。阿朗-歐達耶吉表示,研究人員已經開始試圖複製這種麵包,並已成功從史前食譜中使用的這類植物塊莖製造出麵粉。不過,這種味道需要時間來體會。

阿朗-歐達耶吉表示:「這些塊莖的口感非常粗糙,帶有鹹味,但也有一點點甜。」

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