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14,400-year-old flatbread remains that predate known agriculture (atlasobscura.com)
291 points by vinayan3 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments

> “Nobody had found any direct evidence for production of bread, so the fact that bread predates agriculture is kind of stunning,” says Tobias Richter, a University of Copenhagen archaeologist who co-authored the paper. “Because making bread is quite labor-intensive, and you don’t necessarily get a huge return for it. So it doesn’t seem like an economical thing to do.” That’s because breadmaking doesn’t just involve baking: Back then, it would have also involved kneading, grinding cereals into fine grains, and dehusking plants.

But why would agriculture have developed, if people were't cooking the stuff? It's true that making bread involves more work than just boiling grain. But bread also serves as ready-to-eat storage. As does beer. And I can imagine how both developed more-or-less accidentally from leftover boiled grain.

Years ago I watched a documentary about Sago production in Papau New Guinea. It comes from a Palm tree that's cut down before the fruit ripens (otherwise all of the valuable starch gets used up ripening the fruit). The starch is contained in the core of the tree. A single tree can yield hundreds of pounds of starch, but getting it out of the tree and processed to get rid of the wood pulp and such is incredibly labor intensive. The starch is then cooked into various kinds of pancakes and other dishes to eat.

Traditionally (and for all I know) the trees weren't farmed. Somebody just walked around until they found a suitable tree and then cut it down. So...hunting and gathering. But IIR, people track the growth of individual trees to make sure they're harvested at the right age, but they aren't specifically planted or cultivated in a "farm" sense.

It's not a terribly different notion from what's being written about here I think. I would guess that humans have found starches of various kinds throughout their environment, extracted and processed them, and then made simple flatbreads or pancakes almost everywhere.

It doesn't even have to be obvious. The line from palm tree to sago is not clear at all. Why even consider eating the core of a tree? Why invent a long, multi-part, labor intensive process to make it more edible? Nobody really knows how it started.

But I think the important point I got from this was that agriculture is not a clean cut-off. You aren't digging out root vegetables one day and then planting wheat the next. There must be some kind of transition period that depends on the local plant life and many of the things that we think of as indicative of post cut-off agriculture societies probably aren't that at all.



Well, if you're starving, you'll try anything. If you survive, hey, that worked, let's do it again!

People seem to lose sight of that fact: when you're faced with death, you'll try anything.

And we keep forgetting just how common starving to death must have been in prehistoric tribes..

Is that true or an assumption we make? How do we know for sure that this was the case for prehistoric tribes? I mean, most habitats aside from the desert are teeming with edible items.

There was this documentary about a first contact with an amazon tribe. I remember an interview with the (very young) leader of the tribe who was talking about how life was in the jungle and iirc he described it as very miserable, they wouldn't eat for days at a time, bugs everywhere ++

it's the documentary talked about here, I highly recommend it: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/01/amazon-tribe-m...

Yes, but you have to put this in historical context. These modern tribes have been pushed into corners by the industrialized nations all around them.

Modern hunter-gatherers do not necessarily equal ancient ones.

Good point!

Most habitats indeed are full of living organisms compatible with human dietary needs. The problem is, sometimes you're so good at killing that you just kill all the food before the food has time to reproduce itself. Or maybe it just doesn't rain for two months. Or myriad other contingencies that make nomadic life precarious.

edit: and as bad_user pointed out, thats a huuuge reason itself to even be nomadic

Humans are also exceptionally good at storing fat while also saving energy the moment someone misses a meal. There is a lot of research indicating regular fasting is actually beneficial to ones health, which in context would seem to only make sense if we were adapted to regularly encounter times of poor food availability. With people relying on stored fat from gorging on foods from better times and what you could find while traveling instead of dedicated forging or hunting. Once you encounter a better area with more game and natural food sources you stop again for a little while.

For example, you become injured or sick and all of a sudden you can't catch those edible items.

If it was a temporary injury, you could rely on your family.

Our ancestors were way more in tune with their surroundings, and knew how to moderate their consumption so as not to decimate their food supply populations. We have evidence from many Native American tribes.

Just because modern, industrialized humans are out of touch with natural limits doesn’t mean we were always like this.

You might be interested in Jared Diamonds "Collapse". He's aggregated a lot of evidence of many societies that over populated, over consumed and died out. Not all did though and your technically right in that the survivors (our ancestors) avoided this fate. I just think we should be weary about any claims that peoples of the past were any smarter about their self preservation than we are..

Fair enough, I'll check out the book.

I'm not trying to argue that ancestors were smarter.

For our own political purposes, it's probably best if the narrative becomes "all of our ancestor societies binged themselves to collapse, so we need to be very careful about our own habits" although it's not exactly true that all groups did that.

Wfor political purposes this doesn't matter...

Ancient civilizations rarely had a clue of how a desert came to be. Certainly, we today understand the environmental impact we have.

Furthermore, we posses many tools to combat the problem: resource taxation; development of sustainable technology; reduction of waste and consumption.

North and South America were teeming with large mammals before humans came to this hemisphere 10-20kya. Saber-tooth cats, horses, ground sloths, enormous camels, mammoths, mastodons, ....



Today we have an unfortunate tendency to romantize native peoples as living in harmony with each other and/or nature.

But in fact few things in nature lives in harmony. If there is a balance it's usually kept through violent death or starvation.

I question this idea. It seems like “common wisdom” that hunter-gatherers had “nasty, brutish, and short” lives but the author of Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind argues that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were the “original affluent society.” They probably spent much less overall time on food than our agricultural ancestors. The H-Fs would spend 4-6 hours foraging, trapping, or hunting, and then have the rest of the day to do other stuff. They had a diverse food supply, meaning they probably got more nutrients.

Agriculturists, on the other hand, labored all day doing work that our bodies weren’t evolved for. They depended on a single crop. If anything went wrong with that crop, famine for many people was certain. And since they had less food diversity, they were comparatively malnourished.

Stephen Pinker often talks about life in present day Papau New Guinea where tribal societies exist that are likely very similar to those that existed in all hunter-gatherer societies. Life mostly sucks and if you meet someone in a different tribe you spend most of your time deciding whether or not to kill that person.

Yuval Harari [1] argues that the violence in New Guinea is an example of a "simple agricultural society with no political framework beyond village and tribe."

In other words, yes, New Guinea is violent, but it doesn't represent a hunter-forager society.

[1]: Sapiens, p. 82

Why? Animals don't usually starve to death. Nor do humans. Any generation has an established means of extracting what it needs from its environment. Starvation is an exceptional occurrence.

That's pretty recent, actually. According to the UN, in 1947 the global rate of undernourishment (a year or more of insufficient food) was approximately 50%. In 1975 the rate was 35% in the developing world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Famine has always been with us, at least until the last decade or so. Until very recently, a single crop failure could devastate a community. Huge swaths of the world were vulnerable to famines. Have a look at the mortality from famines by decade since the 19th century, from the Our World In Data project: https://ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Famine... , or the chart of famine deaths and durations from the same: https://ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/The-nu... . And this starts in a relatively modern timeframe. There's a good reason that famine was included as a horseman of the apocalypse, along with war, pestilence, and death. It is only recently that famine has been reduced to an exceptional occurrence. In previous generations, undernourishment was the norm, and famine not uncommon.

If the tribe gets too big, it can quickly deplete the resources in the area, especially when helped by natural phenomena like drought.

N.B. animals have evolved in harmony with their environment. In general you get the perfect ratio of predators to herbivores to plants. If there are too many herbivores in an area and without natural enemies, that can quickly turn the environment to a deserted land. There are actually stories around like how introducing wolves in the Yellow Stone national park has saved its rivers.

Humans on the other hand are too adaptable for the environment. We can live in any environment and without natural enemies to keep our population in check, nature’s laws don’t apply to us.

So could we deplete our resources 15,000 years ago? Hell yeah. In fact that’s the number one reason for the migrations of early humans between continents.

>In general you get the perfect ratio of predators to herbivores to plants.

This is just flat out wrong. Both predator and prey animals starve to death all the time, often due to the impact they have on their environment but also due to a myriad other natural events. It's known as the predator-prey cycle and is a series of population booms and busts caused by over consumption and over population. Here's a video that gives a very basic explanation.


My folks live out in the middle of the woods, and my dad has several times observed that there will be a bunch of rabbits and not very many coyotes running around for a year or two, then there will be a lot of coyotes and not very many rabbits for a year or two, then there will be a bunch of rabbits and not very many coyotes again.

Preditors prey relationships are far from perfect. What's missed is locally things can get out of whack, but both preditors and prey move around. Further the vast majority of species have died out, and that trend shows no sign of stopping.

Animals don't usually starve to death because once they get weakened by starvation there are plenty of things on Nature that will kill them faster.

But one does not need to be near death to start fighting starvation with all his might.

Territorial animals often starve to death when the prey migrates to a new pasture.

We forget how common starving to death was before very modern times.

"...agriculture is not a clean cut-off."

Even today.

There's a lot of taper along the spectrum: hunting, foraging, gardening, farming, manufacturing.

Trees, fish, mushrooms...

Ditto non food stuffs.

Because making bread is quite labor-intensive

It's important to remember there is no evidence to suggest our 14,400 year-ago-ancestors had office / factory / workshop jobs to go to for 60 hours a week. Probably very little in the way of school or universities assignments to hand in by Friday. And they likely didn't have to pick up the dry cleaning or the kids on their way home.

I'm going to propose that, probably, everything the ancients did was labour intensive. Predominately due to not having invented the powered machine yet.

You can gut and dress an animal quickly if you're practiced. Snares and stake traps paired with flushing animals doesn't take a lot of 'intensive labor.'

We even have the ruins of catch traps in central Asia and other places that would have industrialized animal slaughter before agriculture was ever a thing.

Agriculture was likely a required response to human degradation of formerly productive areas for hunter-gatherers due to over-taking of natural resources.

Hunting was a predominantly male activity, though. If tribal structures got more efficient at child rearing "at scale" over time, more and more labor could be invested by the rest of the tribe into making food stuffs, tools, etc. beyond the usual options necessary for survival. This would allow them, for example, to develop food that lasts longer and makes it less risky for the hunters to go out longer - a helpful trait to survive natural variability in animal supply but one that requires free resources for experimentation and production.

> Hunting was a predominantly male activity, though.


> Oh?

If you have any information that goes against civilitty's comment there, I'd be interested to read it. I was always under the impression that in most hunter/gatherer cultures the men were primarily involved in the hunting.

The answer is we don't know (and I'd suspect the tendency to believe it was men is simply a result of assumption based on modern gender roles) but there is some research pointing to both sexes being initially involved in early hunting and the division of roles emerging later (possibly with agriculture, possibly before).

From a study[0][1] of contemporary hunter-gatherer tribes:

> In the Philippines population, women are involved in hunting and honey collecting and while there is still a division of labour, overall men and women contribute a similar number of calories to the camp. In both groups, monogamy is the norm and men are active in childcare.

From another study[2][3] on the emergence of division of labour:

> We argue that the typical patterns of labor division emerged relatively recently in human evolutionary history [...]

> gender roles were not always the same in early-human cultures, and there's nothing that predisposes either sex toward certain kinds of work.

> "That women sometimes become successful hunters and men become gatherers means that the universal tendency to divide subsistence labor be gender is not solely the result of innate physical or psychological differences between the sexes; much of it has to be learned,"

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/14/early-men-wo...

[1] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6236/796

[2] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/12/061207-sex-...

[3] https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/507197

I don't think we can know for sure but the "outliers" may hint at hunting and gathering being more akin to genders in the sense of rolls distinct from biological sex. Like the sensationally reported "gay caveman". A similar concept exists with twospirits. Although women getting pregnant provides strategic reasons and better color and taste distinguishing would suggest a pro-gatherer bias for women worked out better or is just an accident of x-linked trait redundancy protecting against flaws there. Of course individual apitudes matter the most on a per individual basis. A colorblind woman distinguishing toxic from nontoxic plants would be at a disadvantage.

Evolution isn't goal oriented but the survival bias can shape things in a shockingly strategic way like with lactose tolerance trait/technically a mutation as seen on maps. Traditionally herdsmen regions have it higher and the swiss practically have it ubiquitously. Although with wandering there may be intelligent selection bias where the ones who would be sickened by dairy decide to risk going elsewhere.

None of those sources contradict the common understanding that men primarily did the hunting in hunter-gatherer societies. They certainly point out that there have existed societies where women hunt, but even one of your own pull-quotes states that normally, it was men.

Neither study was entirely conclusive on that particular question (especially as the first is of contemporary tribes); as I said at the start of my comment: "we don't know". My main intent linking them was pointing out the ambiguity around the question.

The general assumption is that men are more likely to be the hunters: I'm not contradicting this, just pointing out it's not definitive. The previous poster was stating it as fact, and the first commenter was being questioned for daring to question said unverified fact.

Often the assumption is based on the need for speed and strength, but a lot of hunting (even of big game) was trap-aided, and primarily called for practised skill rather than simple strength and speed.

Speed and strength for hunting? That's crazy. Why would anyone think that?

Unless by speed you mean quick reactions. That might help for catching a lizard by stamping on its tail. (I did that as a child: the tail came off so it wouldn't have been many calories.)

I imagine persistence hunting as being a big thing in olden times. You'd need to have a long-distance runner's physique, and ability to follow tracks. Also bow and arrow: skill in moving quietly, and aiming well, obviously.


When it involves mostly running for hours, sex probably matter much less.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marathon_world_record_progress... indicates otherwise.

Well in a way. "Less" would be accurate than it might matter in contests of strength, but it's still hugely relevant. I think the older races may even be more informative since that would be more of contests of raw athleticism as opposed to the extreme diet/supplemental/developmental process that high level athletics is today.

You have to see things from the hunter's point of view. If your strength lies in endurance, you'll hunt the Usain Bolt equivalent.

There's obviously no data, but I would bet any of the top 10000 long distance women runners outruns Usain Bolt in their category. Regarding persitence hunting, it's prohbably easier for humans to hunt cheetas* than to hunt horses.


> gender roles were not always the same in early-human cultures, and there's nothing that predisposes either sex toward certain kinds of work.

Except the biological differences in strength, speed, etc. Unless they're arguing that these came about after agriculture, but a look at our close relatives would suggest it's always been there.

> In the Philippines population

Correct me if I'm wrong but I didn't think the Philippines had much in the way of large game, this and the general geography (mountainous rain-forest) could be negating the advantages men had in other parts of the world.

> and I'd suspect the tendency to believe it was men is simply a result of assumption based on modern gender roles

I'd suspect it's based on the belief that you'd want the stronger, taller, faster people doing the work the involve strength and speed. This won't always be men, but usually it will be.

We are a sexually dimorphic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_dimorphism#Humans) species, it shouldn't be at all surprising that we divided labor based on these obvious physical differences.

Even without sexual dimorphism in regards to strength it’s not hard to understand why.

14,000 years ago most people didn’t live pass 30-40, pregnancy takes you out of commission as far as hunting goes for at least a year for population growth it means that a woman had to successfully give birth to more than 2 children that would manage to survive till purberty on average, there are no indications that puberty was any different than it is today which would mean that essentially they only had 10-15 or so years to pop out 3-4 kids if not more considering the child mortality rates of the era.

That's been debunked.

The low average life expectancy was not because adults died young but because child mortality (especially for children under 5) was sky-high.

There was also an article on here just yesterday about how we list ancient skeletons as "50+" instead of "75" years old because we can't distinguish ages of skeletons above 50, which also contributes to that misconception.

Long story short: a prehistoric human who made it to puberty had a pretty good chance of living to be 60-80, well past menopause.

The article was talking about 2000 years ago, not 15,0000 years ago that's a pretty big difference, not to mention that the article wasn't as much debunking things but falling into a huge selection bias fallacy by using historical figures as the basis for calculating the age who also often didn't live anywhere close to 80 years.

Pre-historic humans who made it to puberty didn't live anywhere near 60-80 years on average we have the plenty of skeletons to know that (in fact modern hunter gatherers who do benefit from some levels of outside intervention don't even get to that).

It's also important to note that unlike today or even later in history the age past puberty didn't sky rocket.

Women often died due to child birth, men died hunting dangerous game, and both often died to the elements as at the time we were still migratory and didn't live in settlements.

>Based on Early Neolithic data, total life expectancy at 15 would be 28–33 years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy

If you have better data by all means share it.

> 14,000 years people didn’t live pass 30

Are you sure? Life expectency of ~30 doesn't mean people didn't live past that, since that's due mostly to child mortality.

Yes I'm sure those are the figures for life expectancy at 15:

>Based on Early Neolithic data, total life expectancy at 15 would be 28–33 years

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy we have a lot of skeletons.

The fallacy many people tend to fall into is forgetting that while you are quite likely to die at childbirth or early years unless you were extremely privileged you would also be almost as likely to die even when older when every day of your life was a struggle.

Sure the elites that lived lives of relative luxury could live almost as long if they didn't require medical intervention but the plebs? pffttt any accident could be fatal without modern medicine and working hard laboring life without any support structure simply didn't allow people to live that long which caused essentially a pretty big discrepancy in early history and classical times between the life expectancy of the lower and upper classes much more than what we see today.

As mentioned in that entry "The following information is derived from the 1961 Encyclopædia Britannica and other sources, some with questionable accuracy." Like somebody else has mentioned, older life expectancy figures are pretty bad because it's difficult to pin down the exact age of mortality for skeletons beyond a certain point. And then there is also the question as to whether or not we're discovering representative samples.

Look at all the sources don't just pick and choose one.

https://www.brown.edu/academics/economics/sites/brown.edu.ac..., page 32 (the numbers are expectency so for example at 15 if the life expectancyis 14 you get total life expectancy of 29).

The statement above suggests not that Britannica has questionable accuracy, but the 'other sources'. Though I'd expect Britannica is also flawed. This is a problem that's somewhat inherent to the issue. Our knowledge of prehistoric life expectancies is based on extremely flimsy science.

In particular the dating of age for ancient skeletons usually comes down to some correlation to tooth and bone growth. You look at their teeth/bone development and approximate the age based on how long it takes modern samples, that we know the age of, to reach a comparable level of development. But at a certain age these all sort to converge to becoming identical meaning we can't really tell the difference between e.g. 50 years old and 80 years old.

And, as mentioned, there's also the issue of representation. Are the measurable samples we have recovered a representative sample or is their some bias or other issue that might be getting in the way? And there's even the problem of assuming identical growth patterns. Did different diets, lifestyles, and even evolutionary changes affect development? Maybe, but we're optimistically hoping the answer is no. All in all the science behind these numbers is just really not all that great, even if it's the best we can do for now.

We can’t tell the difference between 50-60 and 80 well sorta but the problem is that we don’t even find skeletons of 50 year olds, at least in the digs in Israel and Turkey, iirc the oldest skeleton in the Hayonim cave in Israel was around 40 years old so they either didn’t bury their elders or their elders were in their 30s.

I'm not familiar with the specifics of HaYonim Cave, but in general I do think a major issue is that what people do with their corpses is ritualized and often class/role centric. So what exactly did they do with their dead? Who knows. And that's really the problem. These measurements all come down to make some fairly substantial, and unprovable, assumptions. And there are the other issues you also are not considering, and are generally not considered. There are a practically infinite number of reasons that developmental correlations between contemporary humans and groups 10,000+ years in the past might no longer hold. Yet we have to assume that they do. Again, it's another fairly substantial, yet unprovable, assumption.

And in general that's the problem. We have to make a whole lot of optimistic assumptions, but if even one is off then everything is completely thrown off. This is the reason I tend to take pre-historic anthropology with a grain of salt. For that matter even post-historic anthropology tends to often be full of questionable science. For instance one big piece of news was the discovery that a piece of Viking burial cloth, in Sweden, contained Arabic script and references to Allah. The problem is that it was later discovered that the script it was allegedly written in had not yet been invented at the time of the corpse's burial. That such a 'discovery' was not the first thing that was checked before racing to publish seems to be an unfortunately common occurrence in these sort of sciences. It goes without saying that you should try to disprove your hypothesis, not prove it. Only then when you've completely failed to refute your hypothesis should you begin to considering the possibility of its correctness, given available information.

Thanks for that!

I promise you that if you actually hunted and trapped/caught/killed your meal for the day, you'd be way too tired to log onto Hacker News and comment.

>I'm going to propose that, probably, everything the ancients did was labour intensive. Predominately due to not having invented the powered machine yet.

Or, inversely, as soon as they covered their food needs (which could be quite meagre) they were pretty leisurely, like many primitive tribes the ethnologists have studied.

honestly you've got to wonder whether we're the primitive ones considering a lot of those tribes work less than 20 hours per week

I've read that a leading theory as the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies was that agricultural societies incentivized larger populations, were able to sustain them, and that their desire for arable land led them to fight - so the transition was not as much towards qualitatively better lifestyle but towards a qualitatively stronger lifestyle. As much as I enjoy beer, I find this more compelling than the theory that people chose to pick up farming just to drink

Well, there's always this:


I think there's a balance between technological and economic advancement and what really matters (creativity, love, friendship, leisure, no stress, etc) - and we're awful at striking that balance because we let society run on automaton.

It's a good joke, but kind of a mediocre parable. The thing is, I don't think anyone would disagree that, all else being equal, living in a small fishing village, sleeping late, etc., would be better if you were a millionaire. The question then is which parts aren't equal between the two scenarios, and which of those are more important to you. I guess it's helpful as a prompt to consider that question.

>It's a good joke, but kind of a mediocre parable. The thing is, I don't think anyone would disagree that, all else being equal, living in a small fishing village, sleeping late, etc., would be better if you were a millionaire.

That's not the meaning of the parable though.

The meaning is that you can enjoy such things without being a millionaire.

Tons of people have been sold a rat-race stressful life in "careers", when they can achieve their ultimate goals with much more modest means (and in less stressful occupations).

you're right, but I guess the problem for me is that I would just feel helpless if I went straight for being the fisherman. If you have a war chest from your corporate career, it doesn't matter if your area has political instability or crime or suffers from overfishing. You never have to worry about your kids wanting to go to an expensive school or getting a serious illness (at least, financially).

To me it would seem selfish to choose that life knowing that dependents (parents, children, spouse, whatever) might end up comparatively worse for it. Of course that's not a problem if you don't have any of those, or don't care

That's a great article, for sure. But back in the day, it's arguable that beer was mainly for grain preservation. It's very hard to get wasted on low-EtOH beer. Which is what early beers would have been.

What evidence do you have for low alcohol content of early beers? Modern beers fermented with wild yeast[0] have roughly the same ABV as beers fermented with selectively bred yeast, and it's rare for modern beers to aim for the highest ABV the yeast is capable of fermenting. ABV is more commonly a consequence of how much you choose to dilute the wort.

Higher ABV requires less fuel for heating the water, and results in a product that keeps better, so why wouldn't some early brewers produce it?

[0] https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/style/50/

According to one site I ran into (https://www.ancient.eu/article/1033/beer-in-ancient-egypt/), Egyptian beer was classified by strength or flavor. The typical "everyday" Egyptian beer would be roughly the same as typical sessionable beer today, 3-4%. Higher strength beers definitely existed, particularly for religious festivals or ceremonies.

The article unfortunately didn't go into details, but this makes sense to me. It is actually pretty easy to make a strong mead (a more ancient alcoholic beverage than beer, and also present in Egypt) and a few references indicate that Egyptians fortified beer with honey or dates sometimes (which would serve mostly to increase ABV, in addition to adding a little flavor). (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/zymurgy/pharaoh-ale-b...). So they certainly were capable of brewing stronger stuff; I have doubts that they went for the low-intoxicant "session beer" all the time.

Chicha in Peru seems to be up to about 3%, which isn’t strong but presumably you could get drunk without too much suffering.

Especially if I have been off the stuff for a time, I get a real buzz from 3%. Given that they may have had it on an empty stomach too, I'd say, 3% is quite enough to be psychoactive.

Indeed, they must have known that they could make bread out of wild grains before they even learned how to seed and harvest crops, otherwise, why would they have done in the first place?

Wild grain would probably grow in the same place year after year, and the tribe would go back to harvest it even though they did not plant it themselves intentionally or irrigated the soil.

> “Nobody had found any direct evidence for production of bread

I think it is clear with this "flatbread" that we are seeing evidence for proto-pizza delivery. They may yet turn up what amount to coupons, perhaps as notches on sticks, or perhaps a receipt or change.

That surprised me really - aside from not knowing how bread sounds ideal to gatherers for condensing their finding into transportable and preserved bread. And they both do have a lot of time to kill too.

The tools sound like a real obstacle given how fanatically low possession hunter gatherers are - doing things like flint knapping on demand tools instead of specialized tools. Perhaps gatherer divergence - they would need just a pot and maybe a vegetation cutter at most to be useful for gathering and cooking while hunters could need just things to kill and butcher their kills. Wood and stone both being grabbed in situ.

I don't believe bread is that much easier to store than grain. Easier to carry maybe.

The problem about grain before agriculture was to collect it. The right conditions to make that feasible existed only in certain regions.

> But why would agriculture have developed, if people were't cooking the stuff?

This was my intuition as well. And IIRC, wheat was naturally plentiful in at least some parts of the fertile crescent, such that people could bake bread without needing to farm it. In such places, heavy grinding stones and other artifacts were found which suggested that people had settled (they were far too heavy to be picked up and moved from place to place) because the region was so abundant.

The bread as described in the article was made from relatively finely ground grain, so unlikely to be accidental, and the article references finds of similar flatbreads from just a few thousand years later at different locations.

I'm not arguing that this bread was accidental, but that people may have noticed that partially burned leftover gruel was tasty. Also, it's arguably easier to grind leftover gruel than dry grain. Because it somewhat holds together. I know from wet grinding homemade black powder, but it's the same idea. Except for the not-exploding part, anyway :)

@mirimir wrote "And I can imagine how both developed more-or-less accidentally from leftover boiled grain."

Not that this particular example was an accident from leftover boiled grain.

Someone probably sent their toddler to go rub grain between two rocks to keep the toddler out of their hair while they butchered a goat or something.

More likely, there were already thousands of years of experience with boiled grains and related processing of grains to experiment with, and notice the results of, including fermentation, baking, and other heat-related consequences of particulate and processed wheat grain.

Just like the experience of fermented milk / yoghurt / cheese -- thousands of years of experience with the possibilities.

Refrigeration is not comfortable to tent-dwelling nomads.

Oatmeal fried with lots of butter, plus fruit and honey or maple syrup, is very tasty.

My recipe for oatmeal: take water, raisins, and nuts if I have them, nuts, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let cool. Irish oats are awesome this way done overnight. Do it in a crockpot with a large amount and you'll eat for a week (peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old). I'm hungry in the morning. Easy and a little bit sweet works well.

I've only ever seen that rhyme as "pease pudding hot, ...". Pease, AIUI, is mixed legumes.


This is literally the first time I’ve heard the rhyme as “pudding”... it’s always been “pease porridge hot,” in our family for at least five generations now.

Deep fried battered oatmeal sausages (white puddings) are pretty common in Scotland.


Nothing to do with bread but...

Over the last couple of decades, this 10k-15k ybp period has gotten a lot more interesting. Especially to us romantics, who always want origins to be more ancient and mysterious. The Natufian Culture now has a lot of sites. Everything from proof of a predominantly hunter gatherer diet to a full scale sedentary city, 9,000 year old Jericho. We even know they particularly enjoyed eating cat, and may have domesticated them for food.

Even more remarkable is the progress in southeastern Turkey. Gobleki Tepeh is a find on such a scale that it challenges archeologists to re-narrate the neolithic revolution. Many think that it reverses the old narrative: Agriculture lead to caloric surpluses, permanent settlements, cities, organised religions, kings, advanced art, complex mythology... Maybe an organised religion crowned the first god-kings, designated specialised societal roles, built temples, then cities, and invented agriculture to support them.

Near Gobleki Tepeh is Catal Huyuk, a residential "city" archeologically and temporally similar Jericho. It appears to have been built after Gobleki Tepeh, a more "ritualistic" site. Perhaps archeologists should be looking for ancient temple sites, predating Jericho.

Perhaps the Egyptian pattern is to be expected. First, giant ritualistic projects are undertaken. Politics appears to be simple, the king is a god. People do what he says. Complexity comes later. Maybe this is normal. Maybe modes of production follow from modes of culture, to put it in 19th century terms.

Egypt's old kingdom were the the great builders. Out of "nowhere" they suddenly take on massive works, million man-year projects. The middle & new kingdoms were more advanced politically, agriculturally, economically & militarily. But, the scale of ritualistic sites declined. They still had great temples, and fine art keeps progressing. Literature proliferates. Law advances. But, the amount of labour dedicated to pure ritual seems to peak near the "beginning."

It is a fascinating period. The middle east definitely has its roots here. Keep up the good work archeologists. We appreciate it, us spectators.

The most interesting thing about Göbekli Tepe the oldest megalith structure discovered, is that a study based on the drawings on the structure correlated with Younger Dryas period might explain why nothing was found about the ancient civilization that built it.



Science might just have found the cause for the flood myth that is present in most cultures around the world.

Hmm... Seems very speculative. I think you'd need some more evidence before concluding this is a calendar that you can interpret.

That said, the entire site is of interest to those interested in flood myths. It was an active site during the period when climactic disasters and floods were happening. Ice melted. Seas rose. The nearby black sea was expanding, and eventually spilled into the aegean. This is also (intriguingly) the date plato gave for atlantis' destruction.

I like ancient cultures too, the two I find interesting are:

In Egypt the dakhleh oasis has evidence of habitation for 200,000 years. I don't know if what's meant by habitation means it's always been human or generally hominid. But I think 200,000 years is quite recent for any hominids other than what we became to be around.

The other interesting thing is the situation of the San indigenous people of southern Africa region. They are supposedly a very old culture living in the area well over 100,000 years and even their DNA is unique compared to other African peoples. It's odd to think the Bantu, Zulu etc. are the "invaders" of the region, the new people in the area.

Something similar can be said about most of the natufian range. Sapien habitation predating the out of Africa^ dispersal, and therefore not our "line" if the theory is true.

There was also a neanderthal population that seems to have succeeded and older sapien population, which is unusual in the record.

It's very old people stomping grounds, for pretty much any definition of people. Pretty much anything from early homo erectus to early scholars has a token ancestor there.

This subject fascinates me. I've seen a couple of documentaries, but if anyone has more recommendations, please do share! Great post, by the way!

YBP: years before present

I just read about Gobekli Tepe in Sapiens and was going to mention how fascinating it is that it challenges the agricultural revolution => religion narrative.

I like that story better, personally. The original narrative is kind of Malthusian. Find more calories, have more babies. Everything is about nutritional economics. Hari puts culture first. It just wasn't possible for everyone to get along in such a big group, untill it was figured out.

What do we know about the circumstances of Jericho’s destruction?

Kathleen Kenyon’s findings seem to match the events described in the Bible.

We know that it's has taken many a battering over the last 10 thousand years, but it's still a city.

Why would anyone write ybp instead of ago?

Edit: OK, you'd need to say years ago but still, is this another part of the dropping the AD and BC tendency?

erm... IDK... AFAIK, YBP is used commonly in articles talking about this period. I guess having a 0 point 2018 years in the past is clunkier, and we're used to marking years with an acronym.

We use a lot more acronyms these days, generally. The better ones can be guessed from context. I personally don't mind the BC/AD, for iron age and later. It's actually convenient that year 0 corresponds roughly to the beginning of Rome's height.

>YBP is used commonly in articles talking about this period.

OK, I'd never it before (had to google it).

Slightly related good man/woman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czgOWmtGVGs

I can see some value in it, BC dates are confusing but it's also just another year chosen as 0 based on a particular historical occurrence. The video makes a big deal of supposed inclusivity benefits of this change which is wearying

What would your preference be? Ybp is out. Holocene era is too hippy.. Personally, I would go with years before me but otherwise I'll take any convenient dating method including the year of some lord if it does the job.

AD/BC does the job ok for classical history and onwards. Now that "history" is extending back before the bronze age and even to these really early dates...we obviously need a new stamp.

Why is including values of our time bad, while honouring some 2018ya lord good?

>Why is including values of our time bad, while honouring some 2018ya lord good?

I didn't say that was bad, I just figured if you wanted to say 15k years ago you could say 15k years ago instead of making up another acronym, ago isn't a long word. Also I don't necessarily think you have to date from the supposed birthdate of the Jesus Christ. But since we have, why not leave it as is? Why are we being subjected to CE and BCE? It would be quite a message-laden decision if some institutions had a policy of NOT referring to our numbers as Arabic numerals, for instance.

OMFG BREAD IS PALEO NOW! My life just got better

This was my thought too -- at least about Paleo diet proponents rejecting grains.

IMHO these early people were smart enough to work out ways to eat things that were available to them. They probably had cooking with heat, boiling in water, grinding with stone, and probably worked out using salted water for preservation, and kept the spoiled food that had random yeast that tasted good and used it for culture.

Rice is a soft grain and can be eaten whole. Grains like wheat are HARD and need grinding to be edible. The hard grains keep well, so there was a big incentive to work out how to use them. A tribe that got it right probably had quite an advantage.

The movie "10,000" works on this idea.

"Grains like wheat are HARD "

But wheat did not existed back then. And the wild grains I know, are edible with your teeth ...

They're edible with your teeth when young/fresh....

The quality of grains that made them staples is that they could be dried/hardened. That way they keep all winter, can be traded, etc.

For an everyday example, think of beans. We sometimes eat them fresh/soft as vegetables (green beans or edamame). More often they're dried, stored, traded on commodity markets and then re-softened to be eaten as soy cheese or chili con carne.

"They're edible with your teeth when young/fresh..."

No, I do mean the ripe ones. I am a bit into survival food and know the differences - but as I said, only of the grains I tried so far. I could chew them with no big problems.

With the rest you said, I agree ...

I'm confused. The uncooked rice I buy in the store is harder than the wheat grains I occasionally eat from a field. (It takes a while to chew and makes a glue-like substance that is quite tasty when you're hungry.) Is this a new development?

The uncooked rice you buy in the store has been dried.

Hard grains presumably are protected against bugs and so could be grown/stored without being eaten (as much) by other creatures - giving the advantage to tool users who can smash them open.

Most paleolithic people didn't live near plains where suitable wild grain was abundant.

And these wild species formed the basis for agriculture later.


Since most of your posts lately have been like this, we've banned the account.

*predate known agricultural settlements.

It seems pretty clear that a rigid binary classification of societies in to settled/agricultural and nomadic/hunter-gatherer is false.

For example: What constitutes a settlement anyway? Just how long does it need to be in use before it's a settlement instead of a camp? Does regular seasonal use constitute permanence? In many hunter gatherer societies agriculture is documented. What about if shelter is natural (rock shelter), mobile (yurts or boats) or unnecessary (good weather)?

This is all part of a general ancient history rethink that I think it's fair to say is going on. We've figured out that ancient history is far more nuanced than many 20th century Western history scholars gave it credit for, and modern archaeology and genetics in particular are only now showing us the scale of our misconceptions.

Example areas of complete rethink: peopling of the Americas, continued diversity (and interbreeding with) non-homo-sapiens, speed and breadth of human diffusion, speed and breadth of technology invention and diffusion in pre-historic peoples.

First of all, this finding can be incorrect. It can be misdated, they may have made a mistake about the grain being processed into bread.

Even if they are 100% right, it doesn't really upend anything majorly. It just means what it says - hunter-gatherers turned the grains they gathered into bread 5000 years earlier than we thought. Any how, the Natufians and Chinese are thought to be the first two cultures to become agricultural.

What you're talking about is 20/20 hindsight. You're living in a world with self-driving cars and Mars space probes and croissants and corn and looking back with that lens. There were innumerable barriers entering into agriculture (and not only barriers, but most hunter-gatherer bands preferred roaming around their territory as opposed to remaining in one place all the time and doing the same thing every day).

We did not have corn and wheat and domesticated animals and oxen and crop rotation. Infectious diseases were as much a problem as when the New World's indigenous societies encountered Europeans.

Anthropologists say the Neolithic revolution was dramatic because it was dramatic. It was a complete transformation of society - more socially transformative than anything that has happened in the past 30000 years.

>It seems pretty clear that a rigid binary classification of societies in to settled/agricultural and nomadic/hunter-gatherer is false.

Here's the problem, there's an established 'story' and if someone tries to go against that established 'story' about human history, they will find themselves unemployable. They will not be permitted to be a part of digs, they will not be able to find grant money, they will not be able to find a university that will take them in.

If someone finds something that even adds doubt it's immediately labeled a misinterpretation, a fake, some natural process that resembles human activity etc.

Add to that if you go back to Toba supervolcano 70,000 years ago you wipe out most of the human population at the time with some estimates getting you into a few thousand humans across the entire planet which obviously could have ended societies that did exist at the time and were not nomadic, if they were using largely grass and wood for their construction, a supervolcano erupting could have quickly led to using construction materials for heat source, as a source of food for any animals that were struggling to find food etc. Even small settlements spread out might go undiscovered by archaeologists for centuries.

If you look at Kenya’s Olorgesailie Basin there's potentially evidence of tool building 320,000 years ago. That right there kinda takes everything and goes "yeahhhhhhhhhh we're probably wrong" https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/archaeology/a194478...

Telling me we had tools 320k years ago but we didn't figure out agriculture until 12-14k years ago? Heh. Ssssssure.

I urge anyone to go read about the history of archaeology, it's only until extremely recently (the mid 1900's) that it even started to become a proper science and even then most of the labor was untrained volunteer and many an important site were discovered by people native to the area before properly trained people were notified and brought in.

Even recorded history is extremely suspect until very modern times. Some will argue it didn't become reliable until the 11th-12th century but we still see instances of stuff unreliable past that. Some firmly believe Joan of Arc is a fabrication for example, which calls 15th century 'history' into question... when someone questions her existence with logic they are quickly called a 'revisionist' and considered a nutjob though.

The fact that 'revisionist' and 'historical revisionism' exist as concepts are troubling because they are often used disparagingly of anyone that questions the 'official story' where in other disciplines it would be considered healthy skepticism.

> there's an established 'story' and if someone tries to go against that established 'story' ... they will find themselves unemployable

Absolute baloney, if you were a little older you might realize that "the stories" are, in fact, constantly updated and revised which is how we would expect science to work. In this case there is other support for earlier agriculture (e.g. Tell Abu Hureyra) and the people involved in that work are hardly "unemployable":




> They will not be permitted to be a part of digs, they will not be able to find grant money, they will not be able to find a university that will take them in.

That's demonstrably false. Here are a few counterexamples:

1. http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/from-foraging-to-farming-... (Cambridge)

2. https://books.google.com/books?id=G3QPo7lThXsC&pg=PA1#v=onep...

3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150722144709.h...

These are all researchers that argue that cultivation occurred much earlier than the 10-12k year ago date commonly given, and was often done opportunistically by hunter-gatherer groups.

>The fact that 'revisionist' and 'historical revisionism' exist as concepts are troubling...

Historical revisionism usually refers to re-writing history on ideological grounds, i.e. "it would better suit my interest group if people thought it happened this way," or more insidiously "it confirms my belief system if it happened this way." That's why it exists as a concept, if someone is questioning the norm on the grounds of archeology and they get called revisionist that's just a misapplication of the term.

Even recorded history is extremely suspect until very modern times.

On the flip side, in ancient Chinese history it has been quite amazing to see how much detail preserved in written form has very recently been validated through archaeology. One major example was the 1980s discovery of the Shu kingdom: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shu_(state)

Is your comment supporting the idea that Joan of Arc did not exist? Because that would be a bold claim to make when there is so much evidence about her deeds across several sources that nobody seriously refutes.

>Is your comment supporting the idea that Joan of Arc did not exist?

I think someone may have, but a lot of the accounts of her were likely patriotism. From what I've read people from Domremy didn't much care for the French so why would she go to war for them for example.

There are several historical figures that are likely largely inflated like Shakespeare, Fulk FizWarin (Robinhood), William Tel, Sun Tzu, Faust (appears there were two different guys operating a decade or two apart going by the name), Pythagoras, Lycurgus, (obviously) Socrates.

Then you have famous 'things' like the 'Marie Celeste' which didn't exist although the 'Mary Celeste' did and stories about both are widely accepted as largely incorrect.

Some of the first blatant, and widely accepted, 'fake news' was in the 1800's with the Great Moon Hoax https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Great_Moon_Hoax , Joseph Pulitzer basically started the Spanish-American War with 'news'.

You also have the whole what is taught in North Korea thing, this article is a neat read https://theprepared.com/blog/prepping-north-korea-i-went-the...

that Joan of Arc s character may have been used for various means and inflated is pretty much obvious, but denying her existence is honestly hard to support when even her enemies recorded facts about her.

> Telling me we had tools 320k years ago but we didn't figure out agriculture until 12-14k years ago? Heh. Ssssssure

I think you misunderstood the problem. It's not about "figuring out" agriculture, it's about finding a reason to do it. There's nothing obviously benefitial in staying in one place and working just as hard if not harder.

As they say, everything is obvious in hindsight.

> Here's the problem, there's an established 'story' and if someone tries to go against that established 'story' about human history, they will find themselves unemployable.

Are you really dismissing an entire academic discipline because you believe everyone in it is collectively either dishonest or insane?

This is the sort of reasoning that leads people to dismiss climate change or vaccination as grand conspiracies against the public. Huge claims require huge evidence. To entertain your claim I would expect you to produce not one but mountains of sources. Otherwise you're basically dismissing all of anthropology and archaeology as fake? What's more likely, given the evidence, that every academic professor is a nutjob or that you're wrong?

Have any good reads on this? Sounds like granting agencies and science funding in general are favouring a specific story about human history, but would like to read more.

You should step in to this hunt knowing that the shelves are downright sagging under the weight of hundreds of off-the-mainstream books that are incredibly convincing on their own but contract each other when put together. Writing a story that makes sense is the domain of novelists, and writing a story that passes through a few verifiable points on its winding way is only a little different in practice.

If it makes sense is probably _not_ what humans did. Razors are a good philosophical tool but complex stupidity is often a reality.

Here's a brief little crash course on archaeology https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/archae...

Here's a decent timeline of archaeology, see how it only goes back to 1780 https://www.ancient.eu/timeline/Archaeology/

There are some common historical inaccuracies in this article, like the fact we were taught Columbus discovered America as recently as the early 90's in my case (class of '13) despite them knowing damn well he didn't, Newton and gravity, how slavery is conveniently never mentioned in the North, etc https://www.thisisinsider.com/myths-lies-learned-in-school-w...

For Columbus in-particular the Oatmeal did a decent, but over the top, write up some years back http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day I was literally taught in the early 90's that they believed the earth was flat and that Columbus was brave enough to attempt to sail to India and that everyone thought he was crazy and would fall off the side of the world. This was in a public school, 20 something years ago. Yet we know there were colonies, that were eventually abandoned, and one was found in the 1960's in Newfoundland.

Hell look to certain countries in the middle-east and there are millions that flat out think the holocaust never happened, people the world around that think the moon landings were on a sound stage, people trying to currently change history with the 'Mandela Effect' (Berenstein or Berenstain Bears?).

The history of paleontology is a good rabbit hole too, start with the wiki https://www.wikiwand.com/en/History_of_paleontology

As far as people being blackballed, that's mostly just people coming forward after they allege it has happened or refusing to be part of something for fear of it although you can go read a lot about Zahi Hawass https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Zahi_Hawass and see where he was pretty damn nutty about creating his own narrative of Egyptian history for example

"Hawass has been accused of domineering behaviour, forbidding archaeologists to announce their own findings, and courting the media for his own gain after they were denied access to archaeological sites because, according to Hawass, they were too amateurish."

Zahi also strongly fought against any western archaeologists that wanted to question the timeline for the great pyramid and the Sphinx, flat out refusing their entry into the country in some instances and like when they drilled through the 'hidden door' in the great pyramid after jumping through all kinds of hoops and finding another door not farther up he flat out refused to let them drill through it.

I also recall Zahi having hieroglyphics at one site, that there are black and white photos of, covered in plaster but I can't seem to find what site it was. I distinctly remember seeing side by side photos, the period black and white next to a modern photo showing extensive plasterwork having been added, allegedly to 'protect' the site (bit weird, no other archaeologists seem to do that at ancient sites).

There are also anomalies like these






Etc. Out of place artifacts are interesting when not blatantly fakes https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Out-of-place_artifact

> I was literally taught in the early 90's that they believed the earth was flat and that Columbus was brave enough to attempt to sail to India and that everyone thought he was crazy and would fall off the side of the world

You do realize this was simply bad teaching, right?

The ancient Greeks knew the world was round. The objection to Columbus‘s voyage was that the world was probably too large, and hence the ocean too wide, to cross in a sufficiently short period of time. He drew upon some dubious calculations of the size of the world in order to get his exploration funded.

Thanks for the insightful answer and many leads to follow up on.

Just goes to show you what people will do to frame the narrative (& how valuable that narrative is!).

It's like that ol' 1984 quote "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

>You do realize this was simply bad teaching, right?

It was in the history textbooks.

I suspect you are misremembering.

Update: to be clear, absolutely there would have been people who thought they’d fall off the edge of the earth. There are always uneducated people, presumably large numbers in the 15th century.

Primary/secondary textbooks are not professional academic publications, and typically lag far behind the latter. Your primary/secondary teacher's behavior is not a reflection of professional archaeologists' behavior.

It seems pretty obvious that what we know about is the barest sliver of what was actually going on tens of thousands of years ago. If nothing else, look at historical sea levels through the fluctuations caused by the ice ages. Vast areas that are currently at the bottom of the oceans were dry land, most famously the Bering land bridge and Doggerland, but huge, huge areas all over the world.



Even in recorded history, terrain is much more malleable than you might expect - rivers changing their course, sometimes wildly, is not especially uncommon. For instance, it is well attested that the Yellow River has changed course such that it has reached the sea both north and south of Shandong in various eras.


"It seems pretty obvious that what we know about is the barest sliver of what was actually going on tens of thousands of years ago."

It doesn't seem to be obvious to most highly educated people I know. From their perspective, the history of humanity might as well be only 5,000 years old, they rarely open up to any kind of interest in the fact that ancient civilizations from 3K-5K BC considered _their own civilizations_ to be degraded forms of much earlier civilizations.

It is also completely off the boards to discuss the potential of rapid techtonic shifts periodically erasing human societies. There are quite a few underwater cities in ruins, and of course myths and legends of even larger ones. But they don't get much play.

Importantly, cultures with oral traditions are much more capable of recording accurately details from 10,000+ years ago: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/australian-stories...

>There are quite a few underwater cities in ruins, and of course myths and legends of even larger ones. But they don't get much play.

Indeed, the tsunami back in what 2005 revealed ancient ruins out underwater, carved animals and a temple when the water receded. An entire city, right there in front of their noses, only revealed when a massive tsunami caused the water to recede temporarily.

Then look at how entire islands effectively have all traces of humans scrubbed from them when hurricanes go over, or islands that disappear outright from rising sea levels like these 5 https://www.cnn.com/2016/05/10/world/pacific-solomon-islands... as well as Sandy Island https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Sandy_Island,_New_Caledonia

> ancient civilizations from 3K-5K BC considered _their own civilizations_ to be degraded forms of much earlier civilizations

That is fascinating. Which civilizations were these, and where can I read about them? Did they think that because there were civilizational collapses earlier in human history?

There is an ancient stone list of Sumerian rulers that extends into 'antediluvian' rulers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerian_King_List#Antediluvia...

Egypt recorded similar.

Dan Carlin references A.T. Olmstead in describing how the ancient world believed had eras of its own antiquities. It begins by referencing an event in 500 BCE but then proceeds to move further back in time. It's in the first King of Kings episode, with context starting at around 32:00 and the quote starting somewhere after 33:30.

(Here's a direct link to the mp3: http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/6/4/b64b6fbb6092322d/dchha56_Kin...)

Now, this same list says that these individual rulers lived for thousands of years. Obviously that is something of a red flag in terms of applying this list literally.

To me, though, it raises a lot of questions.

In conversation, however, it usually goes nowhere.

The 3K-5K is extrapolated based on the time spans of the claimed length of these civilizations but I should clarify that most of the writing about how the ancient world viewed itself comes from after 2K and especially after 1K.

The "biblical" (bad word for it, considering how ubiquitous it is as a legend world wide) flood fixtures prominently as a moment of civilizational collapse.

The tricky part is how to interpret the multi-thousand year "reigns" of the "gods" that supposedly came before that.

Perhaps the assumption that bread is a product of agriculture is the wrong way around? If bread was already being consumed then it would make sense to want a more centralized and reliable source of grain.

<“Nobody had found any direct evidence for production of bread, so the fact that bread predates agriculture is kind of stunning,” says Tobias Richter>

Australian Aboriginies where making bread from native grasses for many thousands years, finely ground with stones, toxins washed out and cooked on hot coals and stones

.. not a Seeminly well informed professor

One thing that fascinates me about archeology is how they would come up with new conclusions based on a single observation. Quite the smallest sample size of any natural science I can think of, only thing I can compare to is the case study in medicine and psychoanalysis. One case, but very intensely studied.

How accurate can these dating be? Can you really pin down burnt bread to 14.5k years? Maybe this was ritualistic. I don't know if you can infer that they regularly ate bread. Maybe some peganistic ritual or burial ritual had bread involved.

Grain yield pre agriculture is supposed to be really low. So low that there are hypothesis claiming that it was used to brew beer and eating the grain directly wouldn't be viable for the tribe. I guess we'll wait and see as more researchers chimes into this.

This is a classic use case for carbon 14 dating, so they probably used that. A quick glance at Wikipedia says that it’s pretty reliable for organic substances up to 50k years ago. Dating older rocks will often require lead uranium dating or other interesting radioactive elements.


"That predate the prevalent half-assed educated guesses about when agriculture started, similar to many other assumptions about the ancient and pre-historic world that we have to revise every few years with new discoveries" would be a better title...

Edit: Downvotes as if the comment is controversial? Here is some food for thought:








They're "half-assed" guesses in the same sense that every scientific discipline has been proven inaccurate as understanding of it evolved. Give us a few hundred more years of digging in the sand and we'll have some better theories.


Only one settlement so far was found to have flat bread. So Paleo people's beliefs aren't that shaken.

Oh, I wouldn't take it that far. You can always take it back to primate diets, and evolve forward until humans emerge, and there you'll find an era for which the concept still rings true.

Heh, I just spent a month watching all of Steve's videos. He's... he's brave. In one he has 50-60-year-old open can of jam and he eats some "I hope I don't get botulism, I don't have insurance". and then takes a few more bites...

I love that guy!

Mmm...that tastes...disgusting...I’m going to eat some more...

In other words, everybody really does like pizza.

Cheese, you say they had cheese! Damn.

Quite probably. Cheese and milk products are nutritionally dense. On Food and Cooking documents milk producing 'Bos primigenius' (cow) at 6ft tall 8000 years BCE, with sheep and goats also used for milk and cheese production at that time.

Cheese would have probably been easier than bread!

OK, I'm convinced. They had pizza. Maybe with some wild oregano.

Is bread paleo now?

Slightly past the 5 second rule :(

That's how the earliest bread winners brought home the dough.

it was invented by the elon musk of bread, after he sold enough bread he made a mega factory to produce enough grain for his operation.

Since this doesn't conform to the pre-existing theory of the development of agriculture I expect it to go poof and disappear in a puff of logic any minute now.

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