Skip to main content

Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods, with archaeological evidence suggesting that by 30,000 years ago Homo sapiens in Europe were preparing a kind of bread. This means that the preparation of bread preceded domesticated plants such as wheat. Starchy plants, such as cattails and ferns, were pounded using stone tools and then the starch paste was spread on a flat rock which was placed over a fire. The paste cooked into a form of flatbread.

About 10,000 years ago, the world changed. Humans began to domesticate plants rather than simply gathering wild plants. With domestication, grains were used for making bread. In Mesopotamia, barley was the principle grain and several kinds of bread were made from it. Bread was generally flat, coarse, and unleavened. Among the upper classes, bread might be enriched with animal fat, milk, butter, and cheese.

At some point in time, bread makers began to notice that if they left the bread dough out before cooking, it became naturally leavened by airborne yeasts. This resulted in lighter bread.

The Roman author Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, 23-79 CE) reported that the Gauls and the Iberians used foam which they skimmed from beer in making their bread and this resulted in a bread which was lighter than that in other areas.

Pliny photo Plinyelder_zpsa0c044bc.jpg

Pliny the Elder is shown above.

While beer is an ancient beverage, so is wine. In the parts of the ancient world where people used grapes for making wine, they would also use a paste made of grape juice and flour which  would be allowed to ferment or wheat bran which had been steeped in wine. Both of these approaches resulted in a kind of leavened bread.

In some parts of the world, the bread makers would set aside part of the dough to be used the next day as starter dough.

In ancient Egypt, 5,000 years ago, the staples of life for most people were bread and beer. Among the nobles and priests, at least 40 different kinds of bread were consumed. Some of the bread was made with honey.

Construction workers working on the pyramids on the Giza Plateau had a daily ration of ten loaves of bread and two jugs of beer.

In making bread, the Egyptians would grind emmer wheat by hand. This was done by women who would spend hours each day kneeling down at the grinding stones. The mill was simply a stone trough. The grain was ground by crushing it with a handheld grindstone. This resulted in fine particles of stone being left in the flour which resulted in abrasion of the teeth for those who consumed the bread.

Egypt 4249 photo DSCN4249.jpg

Shown above is a small figurine showing a woman grinding grain. This is on display in the Boston Museum of Fine Art.

Some dough left over from the previous day would be mixed in with the new dough which would then be left to rise in warm molds. The bread was then baked in closed ovens. Some of the bread would be flavored with sesame seeds, dates, butter, eggs, and herbs. Sometime in the first millennium BCE, the Egyptians began using yeast as a replacement for the sour dough.

In ancient Greece, bread, both leavened and unleavened, was made from wheat. Leavening was done using wine yeast as a leavening agent. The bread was baked in a clay oven. Bread was often augmented with cheese or honey.

Greek photo 415px-NAMA_Figurine_peacutetrissante_1_zps3fffdfe4.jpg

Shown above is a Greek figurine showing a woman kneading bread dough.

When using barley to make bread, the Greeks would roast the grain first. The result was a heavy, coarse bread.

In Europe, the Norse, commonly known as Vikings, made a wholemeal bread from rye and oats. They also made bread from barley.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site