Was Bread Part of the Paleolithic Diet After All?

Archeologists have unearthed early evidence of bread-making.

Paleo-diet adherents, please sit down: Archeologists have recently unearthed a bit of toast believed to be about 14,400 years old, indicating that bread may actually have been part of our Paleolithic-era ancestors’ diets after all.

The analysis of 24 bits of charred food found in two basalt-stone fireplaces in a Natufian hunter-gatherer site in northeastern Jordan called Shubayqa 1 indicates that bread-making could predate the emergence of agriculture, in the Neolithic era, by about 4,000 years, say researchers involved with the discovery, who published their findings in the scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

While the evidence suggests that ancient hunter-gatherers produced flat bread-like foods using cereals like wild einkorn and club-rush tubers, the authors contend, these bread-like products probably didn’t become dietary staples until the Neolithic era, when farmers cultivated the cereals used to make them.

The discovery marks what appears to be the oldest known evidence of bread-making, predating by 5,000 years evidence of bread-making found at Çatalhöyük, a 9,500-year-old settlement in southern Anatolia, Turkey, Gizmodo reports.

That’s a big deal. Study co-author Tobias Richter, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, told Gizmodo the discovery of the bread was surprising in that it “predates the advent of agriculture and farming—it was always thought that it was the other way round,” as well as that the bread itself “was of high quality, since it was made using quite fine flour. We didn’t expect to find such high-quality flour this early on in human history.”

Also unexpected, Richter said, was the fact that the bread contains not only wild barley, wheat and oat flour but also flour made from tubers, making it “more of a multi-grain-tuber bread,” than a regular old white bread.

Not that anyone expected Paleolithic hunter-gatherers to be chowing down on Wonder Bread or anything.

Photo: iStock

Next Up

Diet 101: Dukan Diet

Although the Dukan Diet has been a best seller for years in France, it’s been rapidly growing popularity since Kate Middleton announced that she’s on it in order to lose weight for her upcoming royal nuptials to Prince William. Other celebs like model Giselle Bundchen and Jennifer Lopez have also reportedly been on the diet to help them shed their post-baby pounds. But should you be following in the footsteps of these high profile celebs?

Diet 101: DASH Diet

The DASH Diet was created for those with high blood pressure, but was recently voted Best Overall Diet for Healthy Eating by U.S. News. Find out what it's about.

Diet 101: OMAD Diet

We take a deep dive into intermittent fasting and what it means for your health.

Diet 101: Ayurvedic Diet

Ayurvedic eating is pretty much the opposite of a fad diet — it’s existed for some 5,000 years. Here’s what you need to know about doshas, kitchari bowls and eating mindfully.

Diet 101: GAPS Diet

The GAPS Diet promises to improve digestion and psychological health. We investigate.

Diet 101: Blood Type Diets

Is the secret to weight loss success determined by your blood type? If you ask some blood-type diet fans, yes. If you ask us, doubtful. Learn more about one of the latest diet crazes.

Diet 101: South Beach Diet

Once the high protein craze began to die down, the South Beach diet swooped in promising weight loss with cutting out the carbs. But is the South Beach diet all that it’s cracked up to be?

Diet 101: Wheat Belly Diet

Here’s a look at the newest popular fad diet: The Wheat Belly Diet. Is eliminating any and all wheat the healthiest way to lose weight?

Diet 101: The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet (a.k.a. the Hunter-Gatherer or Caveman diet) has been around for 40 years and has recently resurfaced with a vengeance. But should we be reverting back to what caveman ate thousands of years ago? Here’s the need-to-know about the oldest diet around.

Diet 101: The Mediterranean Diet

Salmon, olive oil, red wine and almonds top the list of preferred foods for this eating plan. They're all healthy picks, but read on to learn if the Mediterranean diet is the right choice for you.