‘Oldest Bread Ever’ Unearthed At Archeological Site In Turkey, Dating Back to 6600 BC

Last Updated: March 11, 2024, 00:31 IST

The 8,600-year-old bread was found at the Neolithic archeological site of Çatalhöyük at Cumra district in Konya, Turkey. (Image: @DrDavidMiano/X)

Archeologists in Turkey uncover the world’s oldest bread dating back to 6600 BC at the Çatalhöyük site, shedding light on ancient food practices

Archeologists in Turkey have unearthed what is believed to be the oldest bread ever found, dating back to 6600 BC, multiple news networks including CNN have reported. The find was made at the archeological site of Çatalhöyük in the southern Turkish province of Konya.

The discovery was made around a largely destroyed oven structure in an area known as “Mekan 66,” amid mudbrick houses. According to Turkey’s Necmettin Erbakan University Science and Technology Research and Application Center (BİTAM), archeologists found wheat, barley, pea seeds, and a palm-sized, round, “spongy” residue near the oven.

This discovery sheds new light on ancient food practices and offers valuable insights into the culinary heritage of early civilisations. Analysis of the organic residue revealed it to be 8,600 years old, constituting uncooked, fermented bread. Archeologist Ali Umut Türkcan, head of the Excavation Delegation and associate professor at Anadolu University, described the find as significant. “We can say that this find at Çatalhöyük is the oldest bread in the world,” Türkcan said.

The bread, resembling a smaller version of a loaf, showed signs of fermentation and was preserved with its starches intact. Biologist Salih Kavak from Gaziantep University emphasized the importance of the find, saying, “It is an exciting discovery for Turkey and the world.” According to media reports, scanning electron microscope images revealed air spaces in the sample, confirming the presence of starch grains and providing evidence of fermentation. The bread had been prepared next to the oven and kept for a while, according to the analysis.

The organic matter, including wood and bread, was preserved by thin clay covering the structure. Çatalhöyük, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was a thriving community during the Neolithic period, housing approximately 8,000 people between 10,000 BC and 2,000 BC, making it one of the earliest examples of urbanisation.

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