June 15, 2024 The sun rises from Anatolia

Archaeologists discover 8,600-year-old world’s oldest bread at Çatalhöyük

Excavations at Çatalhöyük, one of the first urbanization sites of the Neolithic period, unearthed 8,600-year-old “bread”.

Archaeologists say the bread may be the oldest known bread in the world.

Çatalhöyük is located in the Çumra district of Konya province in central Turkey.

In Çatalhöyük, people lived in adjoining mud-brick houses with roof entrances and established social bonds.

Çatalhöyük

An oven structure was unearthed in the area called “Mekan 66” in Çatalhöyük.

Wheat, barley, pea seeds and a palm-sized artifact that could be food were found around the largely destroyed oven.

Image credit Dan Lewandowski

“According to the analysis conducted at Necmettin Erbakan University Science and Technology Research and Application Center (BİTAM), the spongy residue is a fermented bread dating back to 6600 BC,” said Anadolu University Faculty Member Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ali Umut Türkcan, Head of the Excavation Committee.

Stating that the small and round spongy find in the corner of the oven, which we discovered in 2021, was found to be bread with careful documentation, Türkcan said: “The small, round spongy find in the corner of the oven was, after careful documentation, recognised as bread. The fact that the structure was covered with a thin clay allowed the bread to be preserved until today. Radio carbon tests conducted at the TUBITAK Marmara Research Centre (MAM) showed that our sample can be dated back to approximately 6,600 BC.”

The oldest bread in the world

Türkcan explained that the first examples of fermented bread were found in Egypt and used the following expressions:

Archaeologists discover 8,600-year-old bread at Çatalhöyük
Photo: AA

“We can say that this find in Çatalhöyük is the oldest bread in the world. Considering the observation, analyses and dating of this organic residue, we can say that this bread is approximately 8,600 years old. It is a reduced version of a loaf of bread. It has a finger pressed in the centre, it has not been baked, but it has been fermented and has survived to the present day together with the starches inside. There is no such example until today. Çatalhöyük was already the centre of many firsts. The world’s first weavings were in Çatalhöyük during the years it was excavated. Wooden artefacts were also in Çatalhöyük. Wall paints and paintings were added to this. Konya and Turkey are very lucky in this sense.”

Photo: AA

Salih Kavak, a lecturer at Gaziantep University who participated in the analysis of the bread, said, “I was very surprised when they brought it. Because in this form, I thought, ‘Could it be dough, bread, organic residue?’ I made a morphological diagnosis with the naked eye, then immediately looked at the content under a microscope. The most exciting thing is that there are cereal residues. The fact that there were ground and broken pieces of plants such as barley, wheat and peas strengthened the possibility of what we immediately thought at first, ‘Is this bread?

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