Friday, October 22, 2010

Breadmaking Goes Back 30,000 Years

Starch grains found on 30,000-year-old grinding stones indicate prehistoric man ate an early form of flat bread, contrary to his popular image as primarily a meat-eater. The new findings show that Palaeolithic people ground plant roots similar to potatoes to make flour, which was then made into dough.

"It's like a flat bread, like a pancake with just water and flour," Laura Longo of the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History told Reuters News. "You make a kind of pita and cook it on the hot stone."

The result was "crispy like a cracker but not very tasty," she added.

The grinding stones ~ each of which fit comfortably into an adult's palm ~ were discovered at archaeological sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic. Researchers said their findings throw mankind's first known use of flour farther back some 10,000 years. The previously oldest evidence had been found in Israel on 20,000 year-old grinding stones.

The findings may also upset fans of the Paleolithic diet, which follows earlier research that assumes early humans ate a meat-centered diet.

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