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World’s ‘oldest’ bread discovered in Turkey’s Çatalhöyük: archeologists

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Archeologists in Turkey announced that they have discovered the world’s oldest known loaf of bread, dating to 6600 BC, at the Çatalhöyük excavation site in central Konya province, the state-run Anadolu news agency and some international news outlets reported.

The Konya-based Necmettin Erbakan University, which analyzed the loaf, said in a statement that researchers had found a large and destroyed furnace-like structure in the area called Mekan 66, where there are mud brick houses adjacent to one another.

“In the vicinity of the bakery, which was largely destroyed, a palm-sized object was found, which turned out to be food as it was made of wheat, barley and peas,” the statement said.

Necmettin Erbakan University’s Science and Technology Research and Application Center (BITAM) carried out radiocarbon dating on the object. “The spongy residue was fermented bread dating to 6600 BC,” the university statement said.

Head of the excavation committee Ali Umut Türkcan, also an associate professor at Anadolu University, told the Anadolu news agency that the loaf of bread found in Çatalhöyük could be called the oldest bread in the world. He said it is possible to say that the loaf is approximately 8,600 years old considering the observations, analysis and dating of the organic residue.

“It is a smaller version of a loaf of bread. It has a finger pressed in the center, it has not been baked, but it has been fermented and has survived to the present day with the starches inside. “There has been no similar example of something like this to date,” he added.

The organic matter — both wood and bread — was preserved by the thin clay that covered the structure, according to Türkcan.

Another researcher, Salih Kavak from Gaziantep University, said the bread was prepared by mixing water and flour. It was left for a while to be fermented.

“It was prepared next to the oven but was not baked or couldn’t be baked,” Kavak added.

Çatalhöyük, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was home to approximately 8,000 people during the Neolithic period, between around 10,000 BC to 2,000 BC, and is one of the world’s first places of urbanization, according to BITAM.

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