London, Aug 27 (IANS) An international team of researchers has recreated a pre-historic mouth-watering bread that our ancestors savoured over 12,500 years ago.
The barley-processing “facilities” found at Huzuq Musa in Israel’s Jordan Valley indicate that stone-utensil-produced flour could have been a significant part of the local Natufian people’s diet.
Curious, a group of intrepid Israeli researchers went back to the dawn of the Stone Age to make lunch for themselves.
Using 12,500-year-old ancient tools like conical mortars carved into bedrock, the researchers reconstructed how their ancestors processed wild barley to produce groat meals and “proto-pita” — small loaves of coal-baked, unleavened bread.
The results was a yummy, pre-historic cuisine.
Huzuq Musa is estimated to have had a population of about a hundred people.
“The four large threshing floors discovered near the site – and its accompanying tools – could have produced a sufficient quantity of processed barley for its estimated inhabitants,” said professor Mordechai Kislev, expert in archaeo-botony from Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
The findings show that wild-grain-based nutrition emerged some 2,000 to 3,000 years before our hunter-gatherer forefathers established the sedentary farming communities which were the hallmark of the “Neolithic Revolution”.
“This Natufian advance was a bridge to the Neolithic revolution, when sedentary farmers developed the discipline needed to plan for the successful planting – and reaping – of domesticated grains,” the authors commented.
The fresh experiment began by collecting spikelets – the coated grains of a cereal ear – from wild barley.
After ripening on the ground to prevent them from scattering in the wind, the grains were then separated from the stalks.
After de-husking, the grain was scooped out of the conical mortar by hand then placed into a small cup cut in the adjacent bedrock.
From there, it was transferred for filtering in a small-gauge sieve.
“This was a kind of labour-saving device, making it easier to transfer the grain and waste material to a sieve or other vessel,” added archaeologist Dr David Eitam.
The discovery of this sophisticated agro-technological system indicates that Natufian society made the shift from hunting-gathering to an agriculture-based economy, which was possibly extant 3,000 years before the domestication of cereal, he informed.
The research team had independent researchers as well as faculty members from Bar-Ilan and Harvard Universities.
The findings were published in the journal Plos One.